This paper uses data from the 2006 and 2011 Censuses to analyse the distribution of income within the Indigenous population and to make comparisons with the non-Indigenous population. The results from the analysis are mixed. On the one hand, after taking into account inflation, average disposable income for the Indigenous population went up from $391 per week in 2006 to $488 per week in 2011. While this is a positive development in terms of access to economic resources for the Indigenous population, the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous average income stayed more or less the same over the period, from 0.703 in 2006 to 0.699 in 2011. In a time of relatively stable rates of government transfer payments and more rapid gains in employment related income, the gap with the non-Indigenous population is relatively stable. However, without the gains in mainstream employment for the Indigenous population documented previously, this gap is likely to have risen even further. Another major finding from the paper is that there is as much variation within the Indigenous population as there is between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population. Despite this variation, for almost every demographic, geographic, education and employment combination, Indigenous Australians have a lower average income than their non-Indigenous counterparts. The only major exception to this is Indigenous females with a degree, who had a slightly higher average income than non-Indigenous females with a degree.
Correction, 31 July
After publication of Census Paper 11 there was an error identified in data downloaded from the ABS website. A revised version of the paper has now been uploaded which incorporates the corrected data. The effect of the change has been a slightly higher estimated increase in Indigenous personable disposable income and a much smaller widening in the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Please contact the author Nicholas Biddle if you would like additional information.
ISSN: 1036 1774