Notes on the data: Indigenous status

2016 estimated resident Aboriginal population as a percentage of the total Australian population


Policy context:  The proportions of the population identifying as Aboriginal in the 2016 Census vary greatly by location, from 25.5% in the Northern Territory to 0.8% in Victoria. Aboriginal people represent the largest proportion of the populations in Greater Darwin (8.7%) and in the remainder of the Northern Territory (51.0%). The next largest proportions were in Queensland, with 6.4% outside of the major urban centres of Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville; and 6.2% outside of the major urban centres in New South Wales (Greater Sydney, Illawarra, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie) [1].

However, the largest numbers of people identifying as Aboriginal in the 2016 Census were in New South Wales (216,176, with 92,400 in Greater Sydney, Illawarra, and Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and 122,924 in the remainder of New South Wales); and in Queensland (186,482, with 81,667 in Greater Brisbane, Gold Coast and Townsville, and 104,011 in the remainder of Queensland). The populations in Darwin and in the remainder of the Northern Territory were 11,960 and 45,590, respectively [1].


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016 Census community profiles, Canberra: ABS; 2017, accessed 8 August 2017. Available from:

Notes: There is a substantial difference between the Census counts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and the estimated resident population (ERP), adjusted for net undercount as measured by the Post Enumeration Survey undertaken by the ABS (the ERP is 17.5% higher for Australia than the Census count). Given this difference, and as the ABS has not released Aboriginal ERP by age at the Indigenous Area level used in the Social Health Atlases, PHIDU has produced an estimated resident population at 2016. This is of particular importance for the calculation of rates of hospitalisation, mortality etc.

The ERP for June 2016 for Aboriginal populations is available from the ABS for Statistical Areas Level 2 (SA2, total population only): PHIDU concorded the SA2 populations to produce a 2016 ERP for each IARE (total population only). The ERP for 2016 is available by Indigenous Region (IREG), by 5-year age group. To produce estimated resident populations by age group for each IARE, PHIDU applied the proportional age distribution from the Census counts (usual resident population) in each IARE to the ERP total for the IARE.<\p>

Note that percentages may be more than 100% due to the ABS' randomisation of both the numerator and denominator for confidentiality purposes.


Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Networks, Indigenous Quintiles and Indigenous Remoteness Areas (also available in the Social Health Atlas of Australia by Statistical Areas Level 2, Population Health Area, Primary Health Network and Local Government Area)


Numerator: Aboriginal estimated resident population


Denominator: Total population


Detail of analysis: Total Aboriginal estimated resident population as a percentage of the total population


Source: Developed by PHIDU, using the method as noted above


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