Estimating the reliance of Aboriginal Australians on welfare: Some policy implications

Author/editor: Altman, JC, Smith, D
Year published: 1992
Issue no.: 19


The Aboriginal Employment Development Policy has three broad aims: employment, income and welfare dependency equality between Aboriginal and other Australians by the year 2000. The paper focuses primarily on the third and least scrutinised of these goals: the reduction of Aboriginal welfare dependency to levels commensurate with that of the total population. 1986 Census data are initially used to estimate the relative significance of Aboriginal employment and non-employment income in aggregate terms. These estimates are then disaggregated using census data and available administrative data sets. A critical overview of available official information on sources of Aboriginal income is presented highlighting the lack of detailed comparative data for the Aboriginal population. Commentary is also provided on important sources of income for Aboriginal people that are generally overlooked in official statistics, and data gleaned from a number of available case studies are used to consider some of the social and economic circumstances affecting Aboriginal reliance on non-employment income. In conclusion we raise the possibility that there might be inverse and unintended tradeoffs between the three AEDP goals: in particular, reduced welfare dependency in the current economic climate may hamper the goal of income equality; and the pursuit of statistical equality between Aboriginal and other Australians may inadvertently result in greater inequities within the Aboriginal population.

ISBN: 0 7315 1356 8

ISSN:1036 1774

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