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Media release –

ABS celebrates our history, our story, our future during National Reconciliation Week

31 May 2016 | CO/90

On May 27, 1967 Australians overwhelmingly voted in favour to amend the constitution to allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be included in official population estimates as part of the Census of Population and Housing.

As Australia celebrates National Reconciliation Week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is preparing for its 17th national Census on August 9, 2016, which will again provide important insights to who we are, where we live and how we are changing as a nation.

Head of the Census Program, Duncan Young, said this year’s Census provides an important opportunity to capture an accurate picture of our population and society, including Australians who identify as having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

“Since the 1971 Census, statistical information has been collected from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on a national scale, providing data that has helped shape government policy and the allocation of funds and important services, like schools, health clinics, housing and roads in Indigenous communities across Australia,” Mr Young said.

“Over the past 49 years, Census data has shown an upwards trend in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, rising from about 120,000 in 1971 to 548,400 in the 2011 Census.

“Today almost two thirds of Aboriginal people live in eastern states, with the largest populations in New South Wales and Queensland,” he said.

Mr Young said the ABS has been working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help achieve an accurate Census count in August this year.

“Indigenous people make up close to three per cent of the Australian population and every one of them has the opportunity to make a difference in their community and for the next generation by being included on a Census form.

“To ensure everyone is counted, people in urban areas will receive a letter that they must use to complete the Census online. It also tells you how to request a paper form. In communities, Census workers will visit during July and August to help people fill out their Census form.

“All information you give us in the Census is private and will not be shared with anyone else,” Mr Young said.

Background information on the 2016 Census of Population and Housing

The 2016 Census of Population and Housing aims to count 10 million dwellings and approximately 24 million people in Australia on Tuesday 9 August to help shape Australia’s future.

Data collected from the 2016 Census will support funding decisions for services and infrastructure including housing, transport, education, industry, hospitals, and the environment.

Data from the 2011 Census told us the largest populations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians lived in New South Wales (208,500 people) and Queensland (189,000 people). The smallest population of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians lived in The Australian Capital Territory (6,200 people).

It also revealed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians comprised 30 per cent of the population of the Northern Territory, the highest proportion of any state or territory.

Of the total Indigenous population, 90 per cent were of Aboriginal origin only, 6 per cent were of Torres Strait Islander origin only and 4 per cent identified as being of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin.

For further information on the 2016 Census, visit www.census.abs.gov.au

Key 2016 Census dates:

Late July to early Aug 2016Instruction letters and forms will be delivered
9 August 2016Census night
Mid Aug to late Sept 2016Field visits
First half of 2017The first results from the 2016 Census released

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