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Sensitivity Warning

First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


This report outlines the activities of the South Australian Office for the Commissioner for Aboriginal Engagement, and highlights the ongoing exclusion and inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people in South Australia.

While there have been genuine efforts by the government to address Aboriginal disadvantage, Aboriginal people continue to lag behind the rest of the community as measured by nearly every social, economic and health indicator.

Key findings:

  • Despite ongoing and often genuine efforts by all levels of government, Aboriginal people continue to face higher levels of youth incarceration, infant mortality, unemployment and chronic disease than the general South Australian population. In South Australia in 2020, only two of the seven Closing the Gap targets were on track: early childhood education and Year 12 or equivalent education. Data for child mortality and life expectancy were either not published, or there was no agreed trajectory.
  • Women from vulnerable groups are at the most risk from family, domestic and sexual violence, Aboriginal women among them. National figures demonstrate that about one in 10 Aboriginal women experience family and domestic violence.
  • There have been improvements in some health measures for the state’s Aboriginal community, such as decreased death rates due to circulatory disease, improved infant mortality rates, a decline in low birth weights, and a rise in the number of Aboriginal-specific health checks. Despite these improvements, the health outcomes of Aboriginal people continue to lag significantly behind those of non-Aboriginal South Australians. Life expectancy continues to be significantly lower than for non-Aboriginal South Australians. Aboriginal people in South Australia continue to die at a younger age than non-Indigenous South Australians, which in part explains the younger population profile of the Aboriginal community.
  • In South Australia, there were eight Aboriginal deaths in prison or in police custody between 2015 and 2018. Between 1991 and 2016, 32 Aboriginal people died in custody in South Australia. A higher 23% of all deaths occurred in police custody than the 15% that occurred in prison.

The report states that long-term, sustainable change for Aboriginal people can only be achieved through self-determination that is achieved by having Aboriginal people at the heart of decisions that concern them and their lives. It is about Aboriginal leadership and the three tenets of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

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