Census of Population and Housing - Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians methodology

Latest release
Reference period
2021

Collections

This publication presents results from the 1971 to 2021 Census of Population and Housing (Census).

For the respective methodologies, refer to the following:

Data definitions

Table 1. Data definitions for Census of Population and Housing - Counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2021

Measurement

Collection

Data items

Inclusions/exclusions

National count - Usual Residence

Census 1971-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Main Statistical Area Structure (Main ASGS) – Place of Usual Residence

All persons

Denominator includes Other Territories

State/Territory of Usual Residence

Census 1971-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Main Statistical Area Structure (Main ASGS) – Place of Usual Residence

Age in 5 year age groups (AGE5P)

All persons

Denominator includes Other Territories

 

State/Territory of Enumeration

Census 2011-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Main Statistical Area Structure (Main ASGS) – Place of Enumeration

All persons

Denominator includes Other Territories

Census counts by age and sex

Census 2011-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Main Statistical Area Structure (Main ASGS) – Place of Usual Residence (State/Territory only)

Age in 5 year age groups (AGE5P)

All persons

Denominator includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address

 

Census counts, Local Government Areas

Census 2011-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Local Government Areas – Place of Usual Residence

All persons

Denominator includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address

Census counts, Indigenous Structure

Census 2011-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Indigenous Structure – Place of Usual Residence

All persons

Denominator includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address

Census counts, Greater Capital City Statistical Areas

Census 2011-2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Greater Capital City Statistical Areas – Place of Usual Residence

All persons

Denominator includes migratory-offshore-shipping and no usual address

Census counts, Empowered Communities

Census 2021

Indigenous status (INGP)

Empowered Communities – Place of Usual Residence

Age in 5 year age groups (AGE5P)

All persons

Denominator excludes areas not in any Empowered Community

Indigenous status

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, see the Indigenous Status Standard, 2014, Version 1.5.

Responses to the Indigenous status question 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’.

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 and Torres Strait Islander peoples were counted in order to exclude them from population estimates for each state and territory.

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.

For more information, see the the 2021 Census Dictionary entry for Indigenous status (INGP).

Indigenous status not stated

In every census, there are people who do not complete a census form but are in a dwelling that was considered occupied on Census night. In such cases, ABS imputes people into these dwellings. Imputation is the process that attempts to fill in basic information for the people who didn’t respond to the Census. Currently, this information is limited to a person’s age, sex, usual residence and marital status, but Indigenous status is not imputed. 

For more information on Indigenous status not stated in the 2021 Census, see section 3.5 of the Report on the quality of 2021 Census data: Statistical Independent Assurance Panel to the Australian Statistician.

Intercensal change

Intercensal change is the change between two Census periods. It is used to describe increases and decreases in Census counts over time. Intercensal change is calculated using counts and is expressed as a percentage.

The forumla for intercensal change is:

\(\Large\frac{Census\space count\space A - Census\space count\space B}{Census\space count\space B} \times 100 \)

Where Census count A is the most recent time point.

There have been significant increases in the number of people identifying as having Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin between Censuses that can impact intercensal change reporting.

Increases in the population are influenced by demographic factors such as births, deaths and migration, and by non-demographic factors including changes in whether or not a person identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in each Census, the identification of children or others who have had their form completed by parents or someone else on their behalf, and the impact of communications and collection procedures. 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. 

Sex ratio

Sex ratio is the number of males per 100 females.

The formula for sex ratios is:

 \(\LARGE\frac{Count\space of\space males}{Count\space of\space females}\space \times\space 100\)

Proportions

Proportions of persons by Indigenous status include 'not stated' responses in the denominator unless otherwise indicated. For example, the proportion of people in Australia who are of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin was calculated by dividing the number of persons identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander in origin by the total population and expressing the result as a percentage. The 'total population' includes records coded to 'not stated' unless otherwise indicated.

Torres Strait Region

Data for the Torres Strait Region in Tables 4.1 and 4.2 in ‘Queensland’ (see data downloads) includes:

  • all Indigenous Locations (ILOCs) in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region (IREG)
  • two ILOCs – Bamaga and surrounds and Seisia – from the Cape York IREG

These ILOCs were then filtered to only include the Statistical Area Level 1s (SA1s) that align with the Torres Strait Regional Authority, Regional Map.

The table below shows which SA1s and ILOCs were used to extract data for the Torres Strait Region.

Table 2. Indigenous Locations and Statistical Area Level 1s included in the Torres Strait Region(a)

2021 SA1 code

2021 ILOC code

2021 ILOC name

2021 IREG code

2021 IREG name

31501140101

30700402

Poruma (Coconut) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140102

30700302

Kubin (Moa Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140103

30700202

Dauan Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140104

30700503

Ugar (Stephens) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140105

30700105

TRAWQ (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140106

30700104

Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140107

30700104

Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140108

30700103

Muralag and Inner Islands

307

Torres Strait

31501140109

30700105

TRAWQ (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140110

30700103

Muralag and Inner Islands

307

Torres Strait

31501140114

30700104

Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140115

30700102

Horn Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140116

30700104

Port Kennedy (Thursday Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140201

30700401

Iama (Yam) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140203

30700402

Poruma (Coconut) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140204

30700501

Erub (Darnley) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140205

30700502

Mer (Murray) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140206

30700201

Boigu Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140207

30700202

Dauan Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140208

30700101

Hammond Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140209

30700503

Ugar (Stephens) Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140210

30700203

Saibai Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140212

30700303

Mabuiag Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140213

30700302

Kubin (Moa Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140214

30700304

St Pauls (Moa Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140215

30700403

Warraber Island

307

Torres Strait

31501140216

30700404

Masig (Yorke Island)

307

Torres Strait

31501140217

30700301

Badu Island

307

Torres Strait

31501139903

31501140111

30300801

Bamaga and Surroundsᵇ

303

Cape York

31501139905

30300804

Seisia

303

Cape York

a. No correspondence was required for 2016 and 2011 data as there were no significant boundary changes impacting the Torres Strait Region in the ASGS in either year. All information in the table above uses 2021-2026 Indigenous Structure codes and names.

b. There are two SA1s that cover the Bamaga and Surrounds ILOC. Both SA1s have been included in data for the Torres Strait Region for completeness.

About ABS Geography

The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) provides a framework of statistical areas used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other organisations to enable the publication of statistics that are comparable and spatially integrated. The ASGS provides users with a set of standard areas that can be used for analysing, visualising and integrating statistics produced by the ABS and other organisations. See the ASGS for further information.

The tables in this publication are presented by the following ASGS ABS Structures:

Main Structure

  • State and Territory

Indigenous Structure

  • Indigenous Regions (IREG), Indigenous Areas (IARE) and Indigenous Locations (ILOC)

Local Government Areas

  • State and Territory

Greater Capital City Statistical Areas

  • State and Territory

Further information about ABS statistical geography and a diagram of how the various ABS Structures interrelate can be found in the ASGS.

The Indigenous Structure is based on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ population distribution in the broader Australian community, so is ideal for analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data. In the ASGS Indigenous Structure, Indigenous Locations (ILOCs) are the smallest available unit. These are combined to create Indigenous Areas (IAREs) and then Indigenous Regions (IREGs). See the ASGS Indigenous Structure for further information.

This publication also includes tables for Empowered Communities Regions. The Empowered Communities Regions are unique to Empowered Communities and are not part of the ASGS. Further information about Empowered Communities is available on their website: Empowered Communities.

Back to top of the page