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Overcoming Indigenous disadvantage: key indicators 2014

19 Nov 2014

Examines whether policies and programs are achieving positive outcomes for Indigenous Australians.

Key points

  • This report measures the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and was produced in consultation with governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Based on 2011 Census data, as at June 2011, around 3 per cent of the Australian population (approximately 670 000 people) were estimated as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin.

Outcomes have improved in a number of areas, including some COAG targets:

  • The gap in life expectancy narrowed from 11.4 years to 10.6 years for males and from 9.6 years to 9.5 years for females from 2005–2007 to 2010–2012.
  • Mortality rates for children improved significantly between 1998 and 2012, particular for 0<1 year olds, whose mortality rates more than halved (from 14 to 5 deaths per 1000 live births). In addition, the proportion of low birthweight babies has decreased.
  • The proportion of 20–24 year olds completing year 12 or above increased from 45 per cent in 2008 to 59 per cent in 2012-13.
  • The proportion of 20–64 year olds with or working towards post-school qualifications increased from 26 per cent in 2002 to 43 per cent in 2012-13.
  • The proportion of adults whose main income was from employment increased from 32 per cent in 2002 to 41 per cent in 2012-13, with a corresponding decrease in the proportion on income support. Increasing proportions of employed people were in full time and managerial positions.

However, there has been little or no change for some indicators.

  • There was virtually no change in the proportions of students achieving national minimum standards for reading, writing and numeracy from 2008 to 2013.
  • Relatively high rates of family and community violence were unchanged between 2002 and 2008, and there was little change in alcohol and substance use and harm over time.
  • Relatively high rates of disability and chronic disease have not changed.

Outcomes have worsened in some areas.

  • The proportion of adults reporting high/very high levels of psychological distress increased from 27 per cent in 2004-05 to 30 per cent in 2012-13, and hospitalisations for intentional self-harm increased by 48 per cent over this period.
  • The adult imprisonment rate increased 57 per cent between 2000 and 2013. Juvenile detention rates increased sharply between 2000-01 and 2007-08, and fluctuated since at around 24 times the rate for non-Indigenous youth.

Change over time cannot be assessed for all the indicators — some indicators have no trend data; some indicators report on use of services and change over time might be due to changing access to services rather than changes in the underlying outcome (for example, child protection rates); and some indicators include related measures that have moved in different directions (for example, children’s hospitalisations for injury and disease have increased but death rates have decreased).

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