Conference paper
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An Australian myth is that Aboriginals reside only in the far reaches of Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. Such is far from the truth. 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics census data evidences an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population of approximately 649,171, or 2.8% of Australia’s total population, and projects that this population will increase to between 907,800 and 945,600 people by 2026 (ABS 2011). The largest population concentrations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are in New South Wales (208,500) and Queensland (189,000), and they comprise 25.5% of the total population of Northern Territory (ABS 2016). More significantly, 35% of this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population live in Australia’s major cities and 20% in regional cities; 50.4% of Victoria’s Indigenous population live in metropolitan Melbourne. These statistics confound this myth, and deceptively hide ‘Country’ of kin associations under generic ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Torres Strait Islander’ categories, thereby not depicting real population profiles about Indigenous Australians. More importantly, the statistics raise questions about the sustainment, capacity and practice of Aboriginal relationships and engagement with their ‘home’ Country as distinct from their adopted or transitionary ‘Country’ of residence. This presentation will summarise and analyse this statistical data, historical settlement patterns, population structure and the cultural dynamics of Aboriginal populations focusing in particular upon the urban footprints of Melbourne and South East Queensland (SEQ). Further examination of these two urban centres suggests the need for a framework towards the development of contemporary protocols to support Traditional Owners, urban Aboriginal populations, planning professionals and governments.

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