Employment implications of the growth of the Indigenous Australian working-age population to 2001

Author/editor: Altman, JC, Gaminiratne, K
Year published: 1993
Issue no.: 53


This paper has been specifically prepared as a submission to the review of the Aboriginal Employment Development Policy (AEDP) which is to be completed early in 1994. A critical innovative feature of the Commonwealth Government's AEDP, launched in 1986-87, is its overarching goal of attaining statistical employment equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2000. This paper examines the nature of labour force planning and goal setting in the AEDP Statement. It then re-examines a critique of the statistical targets made by demographers Tesfaghiorghis and Gray in 1991. Using recently published 1991 Census data, the paper explores intercensal changes in the size and labour force status of the Indigenous population.

The paper's main aim is to present new projections of the Indigenous population of working age to the year 2001 and to re-assess the employment creation goals that will need to be set if statistical equality is to be achieved. It is estimated that the Indigenous population of working age will exceed 200,000 by the year 2001 and that to achieve statistical equality between 6,400 and 7,400 new jobs per annum will need to be created. Both figures represent over 10 per cent of the 1991 base employment of Indigenous Australians and represent impossible targets.

The paper highlights a number of statistical, methodological and conceptual issues. In particular, it emphasises that insufficient statistical data are available to make accurate projections and that a more sophisticated analytical framework is required. At the macro level, it will be essential to match the supply of Indigenous labour, in all its diversity, with regional demand. Given significant underestimation in initial AEDP goal-setting, the paper concludes that the aim of statistical equality may be both inappropriate and destined to fail and that a notion of equity that recognises diversity of both circumstances and aspirations is needed.

ISBN: 0 7315 1727 X

ISSN:1036 1774

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