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The Australian National University

Aboriginal socio-economic status: Are there any evident changes?

Discussion Paper 3 / 1991


As the relative poverty of Aboriginal people in the Australian context is increasingly gaining recognition, equity issues between Aboriginals and other Australians have become matters of urgent concern for policy formation and implementation. This paper provides a statistical overview of the economic and social deprivation of the Aboriginal population as a whole by examining Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census data from 1971 to 1986. The paper undertakes a comparative analysis between the Aboriginal and total population with respect to labour force characteristics, employment and unemployment, education, and individual incomes. The occupations and industry profiles of employed persons are also analysed. The analysis shows that levels of educational qualification, incomes and employment levels were substantially lower for Aboriginal Australians, while the reverse was true for unemployment and dependency ratios. Statistical data also reveal that Aboriginal employment status has declined between 1971 and 1986 relative to the total population, despite numerous Federal Government programs to improve their economic situation.

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