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Demographic and Socioeconomic Outcomes Across the Indigenous Australian Lifecourse

Demographic and Socioeconomic Outcomes Across the Indigenous Australian Lifecourse: Evidence from the 2006 Census OPEN ACCESS

Nicholas Biddle
Mandy Yap
Volume: 31
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hczs
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  • Book Info
    Demographic and Socioeconomic Outcomes Across the Indigenous Australian Lifecourse
    Book Description:

    Across almost all standard indicators, the Indigenous population of Australia has worse outcomes than the non-Indigenous population. Despite the abundance of statistics and a plethora of government reports on Indigenous outcomes, there is very little information on how Indigenous disadvantage accumulates or is mitigated through time at the individual level. The research that is available highlights two key findings. Firstly, that Indigenous disadvantage starts from a very early age and widens over time. Secondly, that the timing of key life events including education attendance, marriage, childbirth and retirement occur on average at different ages for the Indigenous compared to the non-Indigenous population. To target policy interventions that will contribute to meeting the Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) Closing the Gap targets, it is important to understand and acknowledge the differences between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous lifecourse in Australia, as well as the factors that lead to variation within the Indigenous population.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-03-8
    Subjects: Sociology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword (pp. xi-xii)
    John Taylor

    Across almost all standard indicators, the Indigenous population has worse outcomes than the non-Indigenous population. Despite the abundance of statistics and a plethora of government reports on Indigenous outcomes, there is very little information on how Indigenous disadvantage accumulates or is mitigated through time at the individual level. The limited research that is available seems to point to two conclusions. Firstly, that Indigenous disadvantage starts from a very early age and widens over time. Secondly, that the timing of key life events including education attendance, marriage, childbirth and retirement occur on average at different ages for the Indigenous compared to...

  2. Across almost all standard indicators including employment, education, housing, income and health, the Indigenous population has worse outcomes than the non-Indigenous population (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision (SCRGSP) 2009). In his apology to the stolen generations in early 2008, Australia’s then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlined a ‘new partnership on closing the gap’. The focus of this partnership, from the government’s point of view, was a number of explicit targets aimed at eliminating or at least substantially reducing these disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

    The statistics on Indigenous disadvantage are well-known by both researchers and...

  3. The analysis presented in this paper is based on data from the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. The census is designed to collect information on every person in Australia with the main aim of obtaining a count of the number of people at a given point in time. This count is then used to allocate the number of seats in Federal and State parliaments, as well as financial grants to various levels of government. At the same time, a large amount of information is collected on the characteristics of those counted in the census which is used for both...

  4. One of the biggest events that occurs across many people’s lifecourse is marriage. According to the 2006 Census, 49.6 per cent of Australians aged 15 years and over were in a registered marriage, with a further 17.2 per cent previously married at some point in time (that is, they were currently separated, divorced or widowed). By the 35–44 year age group, 77.3 per cent of the population were married or had been married at a particular point in time, rising to 94.5 per cent for Australians aged 55 years and over.

    In addition to Australians who are in a...

  5. Population mobility is the spatial movement of people either locally or internationally. In the census, population movement is measured using data based on the place of usual residence. At first glance, census-based analysis on Indigenous population movement suggests much higher rates of migration and mobility relative to the non-Indigenous population. Between 2001 and 2006, 46.5 per cent of the Indigenous population changed their place of usual residence, compared to 43.1 per cent for the non-Indigenous population as reported in Biddle (2009b). Furthermore, Biddle and Prout (2009) identified a much higher percentage of Indigenous Australians being away from their place of...

  6. Australians who complete additional years of education experience a range of positive outcomes throughout their lives. Their incomes may be higher, employment easier to obtain and their health better (Borland 2002; Card 2001; Wolfe and Haveman 2001). There are likely to be spillover effects to the household and community as a result of the individual’s investment in education. People with higher education levels may act as positive role models for others around them, thereby increasing overall levels of education. A more highly educated population may also lead to more active engagement in democracy, community governance and resource management. Wei (2004)...

  7. 6. Employment (pp. 83-114)

    Alongside key education and health outcomes, the other main target that underpins COAG’s Closing the Gap agenda is to ‘halve the gap’ in Indigenous employment outcomes within a decade (by 2018). Stable, well-paid employment remains one of the key protective factors against poverty and exclusion, so the focus on Indigenous employment in the government’s Closing the Gap targets is therefore both necessary and prudent. Without substantial improvements in Indigenous labour force outcomes, none of the other targets are likely to be met.

    Taking results from the 2006 Census as a proxy for the baseline, a halving of the gap between...

  8. 7. Housing (pp. 115-134)

    Adequate housing is a fundamental human need for survival and protection from the environment (HREOC 1996). However, there are significant groups of people who continue to live in public places, in shelters, or any makeshift bed they can find. According to the 2001 Census, the rate of homelessness¹ for Indigenous Australians was 3.5 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (ABS and AIHW 2005). The lack of appropriate housing means that sometimes people choose to live in public areas. This is particularly relevant for the Indigenous population for whom homelessness is sometimes viewed quite differently, both spiritually and culturally (Keys Young...

  9. 8. Health (pp. 135-142)

    The centrepiece of COAG’s Closing the Gap agenda is the elimination of the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. At the time the commitment was made, the available estimates posited a roughly 17-year gap between how long an Indigenous child born today would expect to live compared to the life expectancy of its non-Indigenous counterpart. Revised methodology from the ABS now estimates the life expectancy gap (as of the 2005–07 period) to be 11.5 years for males and 9.7 years for females (ABS 2008b).¹ Although it is not always thought of as such, life expectancy is a...

  10. There is a growing body of research around the concept of intergenerational disadvantage. There is strong evidence suggesting that the environment in which a child grows up influences the experience of poverty, inclusiveness and wellbeing of the child (Hérault and Kalb 2009). Statistics paint a picture of Indigenous children experiencing poorer outcomes compared to non-Indigenous children across a range of indicators such as birth weight, rates of hospitalisation, preschool participation, and reading and numeracy results (AIHW 2008). Daly and Smith (2003) looked at the wellbeing of Indigenous children using a social exclusion framework, and outlined a set of indicators as...

  11. The overarching aim of this study is to consider whether there is something different about the Indigenous lifecourse compared to the non-Indigenous lifecourse as observed in the 5% Sample File from the 2006 Census. While it is not possible to track individual Indigenous Australians through time using this (or any other) dataset, the simple answer to this question would appear to be ‘yes’. Of the 19 dependent variables for adults, there is a significant difference between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians for all of them, either before or after controlling for other characteristics. Furthermore, there is a significant difference between Indigenous...