4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 23/06/2004   
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June 23, 2004
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)
New Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander statistics

The results of the second national social survey of Indigenous people were released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and point to some changes since the groundbreaking original survey in 1994.


The proportion of Indigenous people (aged 15 and over) with a non-school qualification (e.g. from university, TAFE, etc.) has more than doubled between 1994 and 2002 - from one in eight (12%) to one in four (26%). The proportion of Indigenous people with a certificate or diploma doubled (from 11% to 22%), while those with a Bachelor degree or higher qualification rose from 1% to 3%.

Excluding those who had a non-school qualification, the proportion of Indigenous people who had completed Year 12 rose (from 7% in 1994 to 10% in 2002).

Despite these improvements, in 2002 Indigenous people were still less likely than non-Indigenous people to have a non-school qualification (29% compared with 50% respectively).


The unemployment rate for Indigenous people (aged 15 and over), fell from 38% in 1994 to 23% in 2002. This change parallels the decline in the national unemployment rate (from 10% in June 1994 to 6% in December 2002).

The share of unemployed Indigenous people who had been out of work for one year or more declined (from 49% in 1994 to 25% in 2002).

While the Community Development Employment Projects scheme (CDEP) contributed to Indigenous employment growth over this period, the proportion of Indigenous people employed in mainstream jobs also rose (from 28% to 34%).


The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples' incomes remains. In 2002, Indigenous people (aged 18 and over) earned 59% of the income of non-Indigenous people ($394 per week compared to $665 per week after adjusting for household size and composition).

There was a decline in the proportion of Indigenous people who received government pensions and allowances as their main source of income (from 55% in 1994 to 50% in 2002).


After adjusting for the different age structures of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, Indigenous people were:

    • twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to report their health as "fair" or "poor"
    • a little more than half as likely to report "excellent" or "very good" health
    • almost one and a half times more likely to have a disability or long-term health condition than non-Indigenous people.


Over the eight years since 1994, evidence highlights stability on selected cultural indicators. In 2002:

    • more than two-thirds of Indigenous people reported attending Indigenous cultural events in the previous 12 months.
    • over half of Indigenous people surveyed identified with a clan, tribal or language group.
    • one in eight Indigenous people reported using an Indigenous language as their main language spoken at home.

Family and community:

Indigenous people in 2002 were almost one and a half times more likely to experience at least one life stressor (e.g. "death of family member or close friend", "serious illness or disability", or "inability to get a job") than non-Indigenous people (83% compared with 57% respectively).

Similar to the non-Indigenous community, the overwhelming majority of Indigenous people received support from someone outside the household (91% for Indigenous people compared with 94% for non-Indigenous people).

The same proportion of Indigenous people (aged 15 or over) reported they had been taken away from their natural family as recorded in 1994 (both 8%).

Law and justice:

There was a decline in the proportion of Indigenous people who reported having been arrested in the previous five years (from 20% in 1994 to 16% in 2002).

Compared to 1994, Indigenous people in 2002 were nearly twice as likely to report that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the previous 12 months (25% in 2002, up from 13% in 1994).

These victimisation rates were high among unemployed people (38%) and younger people (33% of those aged 15-24).


Over one-quarter (27%) of Indigenous people were living in dwellings either owned or being purchased in 2002 (up from 22% in 1994).

In remote areas in 2002, the majority of Indigenous people (64%) were living in rented dwellings provided by Indigenous Housing Organisations, or in other community housing.

More details are available in National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0). State/territory comparisons for selected indicators are available in Table 2 of the publication. Additional state and territory data cube tables are available off the publication's main features page on the ABS web site or upon request.