Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Mnemonic Variable Release 
INGDWTDIndigenous household indicatorJune 2022 
INGFAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family indicatorJune 2022New
INGPIndigenous statusJune 2022 
LNGPWhether reported using an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language at homeJune 2022New

Indigenous household indicator (INGDWTD)

Definition

This variable indicates households which have at least one person who identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. On Census night the person needs to have been present and a usual resident at the dwelling.

Scope

Occupied private dwellings

Categories

CodeCategory

1

Household with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person(s)

2

Other households

@

Not applicable

Number of categories: 3

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Visitor only households
  • Other non-classifiable households
  • Unoccupied private dwellings
  • Non-private dwellings
  • Migratory, off-shore and shipping SA1s

Question(s) from the Census form

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Example response to the question: Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin? Yes, Aboriginal origin option selected.
Is Person 1 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Example response to the question: Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin? Yes, Aboriginal and Yes, Torres Strait Islander option selected.
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander (selected response)

How this variable is created

This variable is created from the Usual address indicator (UAICP) variable, Indigenous status (INGP) variable and Household composition (HHCD) variable. It is created by identifying whether at least one person in an occupied private dwelling is:

  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • Counted at home on Census night.

Persons temporarily absent are excluded from this variable.

History and changes

This variable was introduced in 2011. For previous Censuses, information about households with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people were available on request. In 2016, there were some minor changes made to the wording of the output categories.

No changes have been made for 2021.

Data use considerations

Changes in Indigenous status between Censuses can affect the interpretation of Census data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is important to remember that Indigenous status is collected through self-identification and any change in how a person chooses to identify will affect the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Census.

Related variables and glossary terms

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family indicator (INGF)

Definition

This variable indicates families with at least one person who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin, who is a usual resident in the dwelling, and was at home on Census night.

Scope

Families in family households

Categories

CodeCategory

1

Family with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons(s)

2

Other families

&

Not stated

@

Not applicable

Number of categories: 4

Not applicable (@) category comprises:

  • Non-family/Non-classifiable households
  • Unoccupied private dwellings
  • Non-private dwellings
  • Migratory, off-shore and shipping SA1s

Question(s) from the Census form

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Example response to the question: Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin? 'Yes, Aboriginal' option selected.
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Example response to the question: Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin? 'Yes, Aboriginal' and 'Yes, Torres Strait Islander' option selected.
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander (selected response)

How this variable is created

This variable is created from Usual address indicator (UAICP), Indigenous status (INGP) and Family composition (FMCF). It is created by identifying whether at least one person in a family is:

Persons temporarily absent are excluded from this variable.

History and changes

This variable is new for the 2021 Census. In previous Censuses information about families was only available on request.

Data use considerations

Changes between Censuses can affect the interpretation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples data. It is important to remember that this variable is collected through self-identification and any change in identification will affect the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Indigenous status (INGP)

Definition

This variable records the response of persons who identified themselves as being of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin in the Census.

Scope

All persons

Categories

CodeCategory

1

Non-Indigenous

2

Aboriginal

3

Torres Strait Islander

4

Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

&

Not stated

V

Overseas visitor

Number of categories: 6

Question(s) from the Census form

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

Is the person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Indigenous Status example - yes, Aboriginal response selected
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander

Example

Indigenous Status example - yes, Aboriginal and yes, Torres Strait Islander response selected
Is Person 2 of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?

For people of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin, select both 'Yes' boxes.

Person's Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin

No

Yes, Aboriginal (selected response)

Yes, Torres Strait Islander (selected response)

How this variable is created

Responses are captured automatically from mark box responses on the form, so the risk of processing error is minimised. Where respondents identify as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, they are instructed to mark both the 'Yes, Aboriginal' and 'Yes, Torres Strait Islander' boxes. In cases where a respondent marked both ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ boxes, their Indigenous Status is set to ‘Not stated’.

In Australia, the method for collecting information about indigenous status is through self-identification. The ABS Standard Indigenous question is used in all ABS data collections. It is also used across a wide range of government agencies and Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. For more information please see the Indigenous Status Standard, 2014, Version 1.5.

The term Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 'origin' is used in the 2021 Census question. When used in the context of the ABS Standard Indigenous question it relates to a person's Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and for some, but not all, their cultural identity.

Torres Strait Islander peoples come from the islands of the Torres Strait, between the tip of Cape York and Papua New Guinea

History and changes

Indigenous status data is available from the 1971 Census onwards. A question on origin has been asked in every Census. However, prior to the 1971 Census, Aboriginal peoples were counted in order to exclude them from population estimates for each state and territory.

The 1967 Referendum changed section 127 of the Constitution to allow Aboriginal people to be included in official Census population counts. The 1971 and 1976 Censuses asked each person's racial origin. Since the 1981 Census the word 'racial' has been dropped from the question. The 1996 Census was the first Census to allow people's origins to be recorded as both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, prior to this only one or the other could be recorded.

No changes have been made for 2021.

Data use considerations

Changes in Indigenous status between Censuses can affect the interpretation of Census data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is important to remember that Indigenous status is collected through self-identification and any change in how a person chooses to identify will affect the count of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Census.

Related variables and glossary terms

Whether reported using an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language at home (LNGP)

Definition

This variable indicates whether a person reports using an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language at home.

Scope

All persons

Categories

CodeCategory

1

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language used at home

2

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language not used at home

&

Not stated

V

Overseas visitor

Number of categories: 4

Question(s) from the Census form

Does the person use a language other than English at home?

Does the person use a language other than English at home?
Does Person 1 use a language other than English at home?

If more than one language other than English, select the one that is used most often.

Include use of sign languages (for example, AUSLAN) in the 'please specify' box.

Include use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the 'Yes, other (please specify)' box.

More information

Person's language at home

No, English only

Yes, Mandarin

Yes, Arabic

Yes, Cantonese

Yes, Vietnamese

Yes, Italian

Yes, Greek

Yes, other (please specify)

Additional options - Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language

Does the person use a language other than English at home?
Does Person 2 use a language other than English at home?

If more than one language other than English, select the one that is used most often.

Include use of sign languages (for example, AUSLAN) in the 'please specify' box.

More information

Person's language at home

No, English only

Yes, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language

Yes, Mandarin

Yes, Arabic

Yes, Cantonese

Yes, Vietnamese

Yes, Italian

Yes, Greek

Yes, other (please specify)

Example

Example response to the question: Does the person use a language other than English at home? Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language response selected.
Does Person 2 use a language other than English at home?

If more than one language other than English, select the one that is used most often.

Include use of sign languages (for example, AUSLAN) in the 'please specify' box.

More information

Person's language at home

No, English only

Yes, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language (selected response)
Please specify (optional)

More information

Additional information relating to the question on: Does the person use a language other than English at home?
Does Person 1 use a language other than English at home?

If more than one language other than English, select the one that is used most often.

Include use of sign languages (for example, AUSLAN) in the 'please specify' box.

Include use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in the 'Yes, other (please specify)' box.

More information

If the person uses only English at home, select ‘No, English only’, even if they can speak another language.

If the person lives alone, answer with the language they most commonly use with visitors in their home.

The languages listed were the most commonly reported languages spoken at home, other than English in the 2016 Census.

For a language not listed, please select the 'Yes, other (please specify)' option and enter the name of the language in the box.

For people who cannot speak, or if the person is too young to speak, record 'Not able to speak' in the 'Yes, other (please specify)' box for this question.

How this variable is created

This variable is derived from the Census variable Language used at home (LANP), which is coded using the Australian Standard Classification of Languages (ASCL), 2016.

This variable defines a speaker of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language as a person who reported using a language that was coded to ASCL broad group 8 – Australian Indigenous languages.

History and changes

This variable is new for the 2021 Census. Prior to this, data was obtained manually from the Language used at home (LANP) variable.

Additional instructional text was added to the Census form regarding Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander languages and stated, 'Include use of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander languages in the ‘please specify’ option.

An enhancement to the online form presented a check box for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language for those respondents who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in the Indigenous status question. To improve the data collected on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, these respondents also had the option to provide a specific language in the ‘please specify’ box if they wished.

Additional instructions were added to the Interviewer Household Form question to improve the reporting of specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages. The Interviewer Household Form is used in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Additional instructions included: 

  • Where possible, write the full name of the language
  • If the person speaks Creole, where possible provide more information. For example: Cape York Creole, Broome Kriol, Yumplatok (Torres Strait Creole). 

Data use considerations

The main language used at home Census question is designed to find out which languages other than English are spoken by people at home. This question only allows for one answer and therefore the number of responses shown in the category ‘Speaker of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language’ is not all persons who speak an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language.

Related variables and glossary terms