2011 Census papers: Indigenous and non-Indigenous marriage partnerships

23 Nov 2013

Abstract: The Indigenous population is projected to continue to grow at a much faster rate than the non-Indigenous population over at least the next 20 years. One explanation for this rapid growth is a high rate of mixed marriage partnerships with the children of these partnerships tending to be identified as Indigenous. In 2011, 56.5 per cent of partnered Indigenous males had a non-Indigenous partner, slightly lower than the corresponding figure of 59.0 per cent for Indigenous females. These percentages represent a steady increase from the previous 2006 Census, rising from 52.4 per cent and 55.5 per cent respectively. In some of our largest cities (like Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and the Gold Coast), these rates exceed 75 per cent. Across areas, variation in mixed partnering is explained to a large extent by the share of the partnered population in the area who are non-Indigenous. It would appear that in certain areas, differences in socioeconomic outcomes and industry of employment are barriers to the type of social interaction that might lead to mixed partnerships. The main implication is that policies to improve the outcomes for Indigenous Australians cannot simply focus on the Indigenous population, when, for example, close to half of the Indigenous child population in many urban areas have a non-Indigenous mother.

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