Reconciliation Australia

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ABS Social Trends

ABS Social Trends 2008

The Australian Bureau of Statistics “Social Trends” 2008 Report revealed some interesting findings about Australia’s Indigenous population. The findings show that in the years between the 2001 and 2006 censuses there have been some improvements in a few key areas. Here are some highlights from the report.

Education

 Although there remains a marked difference in Year 12 completion rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, there have been improvements in educational participation and attainment for Indigenous people across Australia in the past decade.
  • In 2006, Indigenous young people aged 19 years had lower rates of Year 12 completion than non-Indigenous young people of the same age overall (37% compared with 74%) and across all remote areas.
  • There was an increase in participation in education for Indigenous people aged 20-24 years (from 11% in 1996 to 13% in 2006).
  • In 2006, just over half (51%) of all Indigenous 15-19 year olds were participating in education, up from 43% in 1996. This increase occurred in major cities as well as regional and remote areas. The biggest proportional change occurred in very remote areas, increasing from 22% in 1996 to 28% in 2006, representing a 27% increase.

Non-School Qualifications

 Between 1996 and 2006, increases in educational attainment among Indigenous people corresponded with increased levels of participation in education. In 2006, the proportion of Indigenous people aged 25-64 years with a non-school qualification (29%) had nearly doubled from that in 1996 (15%).
  • A marked increase in the proportion of Indigenous people whose highest qualification was a Certificate or Advanced Diploma, from 12% in 1996 to 23% in 2006.
  • The proportion of the Indigenous population whose highest qualification was a Bachelor degree or above was relatively small (compared with the non-Indigenous population) but doubled in the ten years to 2006 (from 3% in 1996 to 6% in 2006).

Workforce Participation


Indigenous Australians benefited to some extent from the economic prosperity of the period from 1996 to 2006, with a slight rise in the labour force participation rate (from 53% to 55%) and a considerable fall in the unemployment rate (from 23% to 16%).

  • In the 2006 Census, the participation rate of Indigenous people aged 25-44 years was 62% compared with 83% for the non-Indigenous population of the same age. For those aged 15-24 years, the rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people were 51% and 67%, respectively.
  • When looking just at those people with non-school qualifications, the Indigenous labour force participation rate is roughly comparable with that of non-Indigenous Australians. In 2006, the participation rate of Indigenous Australians aged 15-64 years with non-school qualifications was 81%, compared with 86% for non-Indigenous people.

Housing and Services in Remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities

  • In 2006, almost one-fifth (18%) or 93,000 of Australia’s estimated 517,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders lived in a discrete Indigenous community.
  • The majority (80,500) of people living in discrete Indigenous communities lived in either remote or very remote area communities. This population accounted for around 61% of all Indigenous people in remote and very remote areas. The remaining 12,500 Indigenous people in non-remote discrete communities lived in either major cities or the inner/outer regional areas, in communities such as Redfern in Sydney and Framlingham in western Victoria.
  • In 2006, 26% of people in remote Indigenous communities lived in one of the fourteen communities with 1,000 or more people such as Yuendumu in the Northern Territory and Hope Vale in Queensland. A further 41% lived in communities with between 200 and 1,000 residents and 20% were in communities with between 50 and 199 residents. Nearly 13% of people lived in the 838 communities with a population of less than 50 people.
  • Not all people in remote Indigenous communities in 2006 had a permanent dwelling as a home – 3,400 people were living in temporary dwellings such as sheds or humpies. This amounted to 4% of the total population in these communities.
  • A significant number of those who lived in a permanent dwelling experienced problems with the condition of their home. In 2006, one-third (33%) of dwellings managed by Indigenous Housing Organisations in remote communities needed either major repairs (24%) or replacement (9%). This was similar to 2001 when a total of 31% of dwellings were in need of either major repairs or replacement.
  • At the time of the 2006 Census, 32% of all Indigenous households in remote and very remote areas (including those in discrete Indigenous communities and other locations) needed one or more extra bedrooms to adequately accommodate all residents. This is a significant issue as overcrowded conditions can put stress on household amenities such as cooking equipment and sewerage systems, potentially affecting safety, and may also contribute to higher transmission rates of infectious diseases.

Internet Access

  • According to the 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, 51% of people living in discrete Indigenous communities had access to the internet in public locations.
  • Around 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had access to the internet at home, compared with the national average of approximately 67%. Remoteness is a factor influencing rates of household Internet access for Indigenous people, given that most (69%) of the Indigenous population lived outside of major cities in 2006. As with the overall population, internet access rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people decreased with increasing remoteness. While half (50%) of Indigenous people living in major cities had internet access in their homes, this dropped to around 8% of those living in very remote areas.
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