This discussion paper presents indicative projections of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population for a 20-year period from 1991. The 1991 base population has been reconstructed after adjusting for data problems evident in the age-distribution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in the 1991 Census count. The projection assumes zero net migration and accepts moderate declines evident between 1986 and 1991 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fertility and mortality. While recognising data problems associated with changing identification and the potential for this to affect future census counts the projections show that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population will increase at an annual rate of 2.5 per cent per year during the 1991-96 period, exceeding 300,000 by 1996, several years earlier than previously forecasted.
The annual rate of growth of the population is estimated to slowly decline in each of the subsequent five-year periods and is likely to be about 1.9 per cent by the 2006-2011 projection period. Assuming moderate declines in fertility and mortality, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is estimated to be about 416,000 in the year 2011. The decline in fertility during the projection period, assumed to take place at a modest rate, will reduce the relative size of the child population and will consequently effectively reduce the economic dependency burden on the working-age population. This reduction in dependency burden will be slightly offset by an increased aged population, although in absolute terms the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 65 years will remain comparatively small. The working-age population is expected to rise over the 20-year projection period re-emphasising the need for policies and programs targeted to meet the specific needs of a growing adult population.
ISBN: 0 7315 1726 1