The position of young Aboriginal people in the labour market and the education system has been of great concern to policy-makers. The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, for example, drew attention to the importance of the lack of educational and employment opportunities while young in influencing the life chances of the people it reported on. Published information on this group is, however, limited. This paper aims to fill some of the gaps in knowledge concerning young Aborigines aged 15-24 years. It presents data from the 1986 Census on the educational attainment, labour force status and income of young Aborigines and compares them with other Australians in the same age group. Young Aborigines had lower levels of educational attainment using indicators of both years of schooling and qualifications. They were also less likely to be employed and more likely to be unemployed than their counterparts in the rest of the Australian population. Those in employment were more concentrated in the lower-skilled occupations and in the public sector than were other Australian youth. These differences had implications for income status. Among 15-19 year olds there was little difference in the median income of Aborigines and non-Aborigines, but among 20-24 year olds, where a larger proportion of non-Aborigines were in employment, the Aboriginal median income fell to 60 per cent of that of non-Aboriginal people. The data presented here provide a benchmark against which 1991 Census results will be compared.
ISBN: 0 7315 1712 1