4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/10/2009   
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The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) was conducted from August 2008 to April 2009 with a sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in private dwellings across Australia. The 2008 NATSISS is a multidimensional social survey which provides broad information across key areas of social concern for Indigenous Australians, nationally, by state and territory and remoteness area.

A summary of the key findings from the survey are presented in this publication. As this is a summary publication, not all of the information collected in the survey is presented.

Topics presented

Topics presented for Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over and Indigenous children aged 4-14 years include:

Additional topics presented only for Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over, include:
Topics presented for Indigenous children aged 0-3 years are:

Key findings

Key findings from the 2008 NATSISS for Indigenous people aged 15 years and over include:
  • 40% spoke, or spoke some words of, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language;
  • 62% identified with a clan, tribal or language group;
  • 44% rated their health as excellent or very good, and a further 34% rated their health as good;
  • those who were current smokers decreased from 51% in 2002 to 47% in 2008;
  • those with a non-school qualification increased from 26% in 2002 to 32% in 2008;
  • employment increased from 46% in 2002 to 52% in 2008;
  • the unemployment rate decreased from 22.9% in 2002 to 16.5% in 2008;
  • those who were living in dwellings with major structural problems decreased from 38% in 2002 to 28% in 2008; and
  • those who lived in households where members ran out of money for basic living expenses in the 12 months prior to interview decreased from 44% in 2002 to 28% in 2008.

Key findings for Indigenous children aged 4-14 years include:
  • 31% spent at least one day a week with an Indigenous leader or elder;
  • 74% were physically active for at least 60 minutes every day in the week prior to interview; and
  • 62% were taught about Indigenous culture at school.

For people wishing to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, special tabulations are available on request. A series of thematic releases, as well as an Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) are planned for release in early 2010. See Products and Services in the Explanatory Notes.


The 2008 NATSISS is the third national social survey of Indigenous Australians conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Building on the 2002 NATSISS and the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS), the 2008 survey includes data on Indigenous children (aged 0-14 years). Data for children aged 0-3 years focus on infant and maternal health topics, including birthweight, breastfeeding and issues that may have been experienced by a child's mother during pregnancy (eg high blood pressure). Data for children aged 4-14 years includes key health topics (eg dental, sight or hearing problems), as well as extensive data on language and culture similar to the data collected for persons aged 15 years and over.

More information on the comparability of the 2008 and 2002 surveys is provided in the Explanatory Notes. Further information will be available in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Users' Guide, 2008 (cat. no. 4720.0), planned for release on the ABS website in early 2010. Comparisons between the 2002 NATSISS and the 1994 NATSIS are provided in the publication, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Data Reference Package, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0.55.002).

Survey development

Experts and key stakeholders assisted the ABS with advice on survey content, including the most appropriate topics for collection, associated concepts and definitions. Advice was sought from a range of people and groups, including representatives from Indigenous peak bodies; government departments with Indigenous responsibilities; universities with a background in relevant academic research; and the ABS Advisory Group for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics.

A substantial contribution towards the funding of this survey was provided by the Council of Australian Governments (CoAG), as agreed through the Working Group on Indigenous Reform, and the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD).