Notes on the data: Indigenous status

2020 estimated resident Aboriginal population as a percentage of the total Australian population


Policy context:  Using an updated estimated resident population for 2020 (see Notes below), the proportions of the population identifying as Aboriginal in the 2016 Census vary greatly by location, from 32.1% in the Northern Territory to 1.0% in Victoria. Aboriginal people represent the largest proportion of the populations in Greater Darwin (12.8%) and in the remainder of the Northern Territory (59.9%). The next largest proportions were in Queensland, with 7.7% outside of the major urban centres of Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville; and 7.7% outside of the major urban centres in New South Wales (Greater Sydney, Illawarra, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie) .

However, the largest numbers of Aboriginal people in 2020 were estimated to be in New South Wales (288,565, with 122,301 in Greater Sydney, Illawarra, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and 166,264 in the remainder of New South Wales); and in Queensland (243,339, with 108,443 in Greater Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville, and 135,496 in the remainder of Queensland). The populations in Darwin and in the remainder of the Northern Territory were 18,541 and 60,450, respectively [1].

Notes: There is a substantial difference between the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the estimated resident population (ERP), adjusted for net undercount as measured by the Post Enumeration Survey undertaken by the ABS (the ERP is 17.5% higher for Australia than the Census count). Given this difference, and as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has not released Aboriginal ERP by age at the Indigenous Area level used in the Social Health Atlases, PHIDU produces updated estimated resident populations for years after 2016. This is of particular importance for the calculation of rates of percentages by age group, or attending preschool, or of hospitalisation, mortality etc.

Method of calculation: The ERP for June 2016 for Aboriginal populations is available from the ABS for Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2, total population only): PHIDU concorded the SA2 populations to produce a 2016 ERP for each IARE (total population only). The ERP for 2016 is available by Indigenous Region (IREG), by 5-year age group. To produce estimated resident populations by age group for each IARE, PHIDU applied the proportional age distribution from the Census counts (usual resident population) in each IARE to the ERP total for the IARE. The 2016 estimated counts were then used as a base to project estimates for 2020 using the ABS projected population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, Indigenous Regions, 2011-2026.

Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator: Aboriginal estimated resident population


Denominator: Total population


Detail of analysis: Total Aboriginal estimated resident population as a percentage of the total population


Source: Developed by PHIDU, using the method as noted above


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