A shorter version of this paper was presented to the International Year of the Family National Conference on 'Australian Families: the Next Ten Years', in Adelaide 20-23 November 1994. This longer paper presents a preliminary analysis of the economic status of Indigenous families relative to other Australian families. A methodological combination of economic analysis of current census data, and anthropological research is used in the paper, revealing that Indigenous families are experiencing substantial and multiple forms of economic burden in comparison to other Australian families. They also display significantly different structural and organisational characteristics which are assessed in terms of their economic impacts. Indigenous families are more likely to be sole parent families and have on average, a larger number of children and larger households. The adults are younger, have lower levels of education and are less likely to be in employment than other Australians. The poor economic position of Indigenous sole parents is highlighted, and the economic role of the aged, matrifocal families, young adults and children are considered. The paper concludes by examining the important policy and program implications raised by the research, and argues the need for an increased focus on the particular socioeconomic and locational circumstances of Indigenous families.
ISBN: 0 7315 1767 9