Summary of findings
The Census is one of the most important sources of information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their lives. Since the 1971 Census, there has been a clear upward trend in the counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in each successive Census. The 2016 Census counted 649,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, an increase of 18 per cent from the 2011 Census.
This publication explores insights the Census provides on a range of important topics including Housing, Income, Education and Internal Migration. It was first released in March 2018 and has since been updated in March 2019 with new content exploring the impact of Remoteness on the characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Highlights from the publication are presented below.
- Most (81%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were living in Non-remote areas at the time of the 2016 Census. The more remote the area, the greater the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Non-remote areas generally lived in areas that were more advantaged than those living in Remote areas. No Very Remote area in Australia is in the most advantaged quintile for the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage.
- People aged 15-24 years living in Non-remote areas (57%) were more likely to be fully engaged in work or study than those living in Remote areas (33%).
- A quarter (25%) of people aged 20-64 years living in Remote areas (and who are not currently studying) reported having completed Year 12 or equivalent in 2016, compared to 36% in Non-remote areas.
- In Non-remote and Remote areas, people are more likely to have certificate level qualifications than undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications.
- There are clear associations between Remoteness and participation in the labour force:
- People aged 15-64 years in Non-remote areas were more likely (49%) to be employed than those in Remote areas (31%).
- The unemployment rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-64 years in Very Remote Australia (29%) was twice that of Major Cities (15%).
- Half (50%) of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population aged 15-64 years in Remote areas were not in the labour force, compared to 39% of the population in Non-remote areas.
- People living in Very Remote Australia were much less likely to speak English as their main language at home than people living in Major Cities (32% compared to 94%) and much more likely to speak an Australian Indigenous language at home (58% compared to 1%).
- There was an increase in school attendance by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across all age groups between the 2006 and 2016. In particular, attendance for young men and women in the 15 to 17 year age group increased from 51 per cent and 54 per cent to 70 per cent and 73 per cent respectively. Attendance at university or other tertiary institutions also increased (by almost 100%) for 18 to 24 year olds.
- In 2016, 20 to 64 year old females were almost twice as likely as males to have attained a higher level non-school qualification than males. This was true for all tertiary level qualifications including postgraduate qualifications (2% compared to 1%), Bachelor Degrees (7% compared to 4%), and Advanced Diploma or Diplomas (9% compared to 5%).
- The gap between male and female higher educational attainment is increasing. Between 2011 and 2016 the proportional rate of growth across almost all levels of educational attainment was greater for females than males.
- Around 223,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported participating in the labour force. Men (55 per cent) are more likely than women (49 per cent) to be in the labour force, as are people in urban areas compared with those in non-urban areas (54 per cent and 45 per cent respectively).
- There was also a divide between employment to population ratio in major cities (49%) and the rest of the country (39%).
Engagement and unpaid work
- More than half of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are engaged in work or study. Sixty five per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 to 24 years are participating in education or work, up from sixty two per cent in 2011. Those living in urban areas (55 per cent) are more likely to be fully engaged in work or study than those living in non-urban areas (42 per cent).
- The Australian Capital Territory has the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15-24 years participating in education or work (72 per cent), while and the Northern Territory has the lowest rate (39 per cent).
- People aged 15 to 24 years were more likely to be fully engaged but not doing any unpaid work (30%). 12 per cent of people in that age group were not engaged and not doing any unpaid work.
- As people move into the middle of their lives, the volume of unpaid work they do increases. 15 per cent of people 25 to 44 were fully engaged and doing two more types of unpaid work. Only 11 per cent of people in this age group were not doing any work, study or unpaid work.
- Persons aged 65 years and over were more likely to be not engaged and not doing any unpaid work (39%). However, relative to other age groups, the proportion of people 65 years and over who were not engaged but who undertook one or more types of unpaid work was comparatively high.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households are primarily one family households (75%) with a further 5% being multiple family households. Proportions between the different categories of household composition remain essentially unchanged since the 2011 Census.
- Of the 62, 261 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons living in multi-family households in 2016, 39 per cent lived in non-urban areas of Australia. In the Northern Territory 60 per cent of persons in multi-family households lived in non-urban areas, followed by Western Australia (51%) and South Australia (49%).
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-family households were more likely to be overcrowded than one-family households. Almost 30 per cent of multi-family households required two or more extra bedrooms to suitably house all usual residents, compared to 2 per cent of one-family households.
- Most families in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander multi-family households were one parent families (44%), followed by couple families with children (29%) and couple families with no children (25%). The majority of lone parents in multi-family households were female (84%) and most had never married (69%).
- In 2016, there were 11,038 grandparent families (4%) in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households. Most were lone grandparent families (56%) and most grandparent families were significantly more likely to be in one-family households (87%) than multi-family households. The majority of grandparent families (65%) had grandchildren aged under 15 years. The median age of grandparent carers was 58.
- Almost one in five (19%) per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over and living in urban areas reported a total personal weekly income of $1,000 or more per week compared to 12 per cent in non-urban areas.
- Females were more likely than males to report incomes between $300 and $799. There were significantly more males reporting total weekly incomes of more than $1000 (21% compared to 14%).
- Median income was highest in the 35-44 year age group ($625 per week) followed by the 25-34 year age group ($596 per week) and the 45-54 year age group ($579 per week). The 15-24 year age group (the largest age group), had the lowest median income ($213 per week).
- More than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over with a Bachelor degree or higher reported a total personal weekly income of $1,000 or more (59%). This was similar to non-Indigenous persons with university qualifications who earned $1000 per week or more (57%). Those with a Certificate III or IV level (30%) qualification were twice as likely as those whose highest educational attainment of Year 12 (15%) to have a weekly income of $1,000 or more.
- The median age of persons who earned nil income was 17 and the median age of persons who earned negative income was 22.
- Census 2016 data shows that 45 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people moved house between 2011 and 2016, with the vast majority of those (89 per cent) moving within the State or Territory that they lived in.
- In the last five years the largest interstate migration relationship was between New South Wales and Queensland with 52 per cent of people who moved to New South Wales coming from Queensland and 56 per cent of people who moved to Queensland coming from New South Wales. Almost one third (29%) of the total number of people who moved interstate moved between these two States.
- A combination of arrivals and departures to and from each State can be used to produce a picture of the impacts of internal migration on population change within each State. When departures are subtracted from arrivals it shows that Queensland had the highest population increase due to internal migration between 2011 and 2016 (1,516 people). New South Wales recorded the largest decrease in it's residential population due to internal migration (-2,012 people). The Northern Territory recorded the second largest decrease (-964 people).
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who moved to a capital city from a non-capital city area since 2011, were slightly more likely to be employed than those who moved from a capital city to a non-capital city area (51% compared to 49%). Year 12 completion was also higher amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons who moved to capital cities than those who moved to non-capital city areas (45% compared to 39%).