The wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is linked to many different factors including culture, heritage, family, community, governance and health. Employment is also a key factor leading towards wellbeing. In addition to providing financial independence and raising living standards, being employed can be important for participating in society and improving physical and mental health. As well as the benefits to the individual, communities can also benefit from the opportunity to be part of the mainstream economy.
There is a considerable gap between the labour force outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those of non-Indigenous Australians. In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments committed to halve the gap in employment outcomes between non-Indigenous and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by 2018.
Using data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, this article explores labour force outcomes for the working aged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Labour force outcomes discussed in this article predominantly relate to labour force participation and unemployment. Participating in the labour force means that the person is employed or unemployed. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the unemployed of those participating in the labour force. There is also some discussion of the proportion of the total population that are employed (employment to population ratio).
Although not everyone in the Census reported their Indigenous or labour force status, the messages and observations about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' labour force outcomes in this article are in line with other data sources. Further information is available in the section 'Data quality'.