Social indicators of the Aboriginal population of Australia

Author/editor: Gray, A, Tesfaghiorghis, H
Year published: 1991
Issue no.: 18


This paper presents social indicators of the Aboriginal population in the context of the rapid demographic change that has taken place in the population. The paper identifies the problem of Aboriginal data, the fuzziness of the definition of Aboriginality, the non-utility of a static population structure analysis as well as arguments over the exact size of the Aboriginal population in arriving at meaningful social indicators of the population. This paper develops an analytical framework within which Aboriginal social indicators can be analysed by adopting a dynamic view of population change in which the consequences of the massive demographic change that has taken place over the last three decades are evaluated over a demographic time window covering the period 1981-2001.

The analysis has arrived at important social indicators; chief among them are the changing age-sex structure of the Aboriginal population, the rapid growth of persons in young and middle adulthood ages, and the accelerating growth of families and households. The rapid growth of persons in young and middle adulthood ages is reflected in declining Aboriginal employment indicators, while the growth of families and households is reflected in rising new demand for housing. The study also has documented substantial differences in Aboriginal social indicators by location of residence; and in particular, has found out that the relative size of the Aboriginal component of localities/communities is inversely related to the index of economic resources. The policy relevance of the study is that Aboriginal policy programs and initiatives have to address the new evolving population structures, and thus the proposed analytical framework and the findings of the study should provide valuable information for charting directions for new policy initiatives and programs.

ISSN:1036 1774

Updated:  18 May 2010/Responsible Officer:  Centre Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications