ABS counts on new methods to ensure accurate survey


NATIONAL: The number of Indigenous Australians has risen from 2.3 percent of the population to 2.5 percent in the latest census, but there is still a significant undercount.

However the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says the true nature of the undercount cannot be determined until the post-enumeration survey is released later this year.

The 2011 Census found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now make up 2.5 percent of the Australian population, with 93,342 more people identifying as Indigenous in the 2011 Census than five years ago.

It records 548,370 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Census estimates there had been a national Indigenous undercount of 17.2 percent.

The national undercount was 1.7 percent, whilst the undercount for the non-Indigenous population was 6.2 percent.

The undercount estimates the difference between the census count and the estimated population on Census night.

In the 2006 Census, the net undercount for Indigenous Australians was estimated at 11.5 percent.
Western Australia had the largest undercount with 16.6 percent, followed by the Northern Territory at 16.6 percent.

The 2006 post-enumeration survey was the first to include remote areas, including discrete Indigenous communities in its scope.

It was significant because governments use census figures to apportion funding to regions, and a high undercount could have meant some regions miss out on much-needed funds.

Following the release of the 2006 post-enumeration survey, concerns were raised about systematic undercounting of Indigenous Australians over the preceding decades.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics vowed to try and rectify the undercount, and put a greater focus on collecting information in remote areas.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Director of Census Post Enumeration Survey and Demography Bjorn Jarvis told Tracker that it was still too early to look at the breakdown of states.

But he said the ABS had expected a higher undercount figure.

“We certainly expected it to increase from 2006 and that’s because we improved the post enumeration survey methods.

“We’ve improved how we collect Indigenous data within the post enumeration survey.

“In 2006, that was our best estimate and in 2011 we made improvements to the survey to get the best possible measure of the undercount.”

Mr Jarvis says the two censuses can’t be easily compared because the methodology had changed.

He says when counting the census you must add on the 115,000 Indigenous people missed on the counts.

Mr Jarvis said there were a number of reasons why there had been a 20.5 percent increase in the Indigenous population.

Whilst a higher number of people ticking the box as Indigenous was one, it was not the only reason behind the jump.

“It’s always due to a number of factors… The census in 2011 did much more work to engage with communities, communities in remote
Australia and community organisations around Australia.”

The 2011 Census also found the majority of Aboriginal people lived in New South Wales, which has 31.5 percent of the Indigenous population.

That’s followed by Queensland, where 28.4 percent of the Indigenous population live .

Western Australia has 12.7 percent, whilst the Northern Territory has 10.4 percent.

There are 52,616 Torres Strait Islanders, with 62.6 percent of them living in Queensland.

As a proportion of the population, the Northern Territory has the highest number of Aboriginal people per capita, with 26.8 percent of the NT population identified as Indigenous.

Indigenous people make up 3.6 percent of the Queensland population and 4 percent of the Tasmanian population.

They make up only 2.5 percent of the New South Wales population.

Brisbane has the highest black population per capita, followed by the NSW Central Coast and North Coast, and Sydney-Wollongong.

The 2011 Census found the largest proportion of Indigenous people live in urban and regional areas.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are a young population.

The median age sits around 21.

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