Economic participation, housing and community safety key points

Early childhood development, school achievements and Year 12 attainment 

The majority of Indigenous children in their first year of full-time schooling were developmentally on track (57% in 2012). However, they were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous children to be developmentally vulnerable in 1 or more areas (43% and 21%, respectively). The proportion of Indigenous children who were developmentally vulnerable in 1 or more areas declined between 2009 and 2012 (from 47% to 43%).

In 2013, 3 in 4 (74%) Indigenous children were enrolled in preschool in the year before full-time schooling, and 70% were attending preschool.

The proportion of Indigenous students who achieved at or above the national minimum standard in reading in 2014 across the 4 school years tested (Years 3, 5, 7 and 9) ranged from 70% in Year 5 to 77% in Year 7; in numeracy, the range was from 71% in Year 5 to 80% in Year 7. Between 2008 and 2014, there was no significant change in the proportion of Indigenous students who were at or above the national minimum standard in either reading or numeracy for each of the 4 school years tested.

Most (98%) Indigenous students who had begun secondary education at Year 7/8 in 2010/2011 completed Year 10 in 2013. However, retention rates decreased with each additional year of schooling, with the Year 12 retention rate being 55%. Year 12 retention rates for Indigenous students increased substantially over time—from 36% in 2001 to 55% in 2013; however, the rates in 2013 remained below the rate for other students (83%).

Apparent retention rates between Years 7/8 and 12, by Indigenous status, 2001 to 2013

Horizontal line chart showing for other students, Indigenous students; per cent (0 to 100) on the y axis; year (2001 to 2013) on the x axis.  

Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates for Indigenous young people aged 20–24 increased from 41% in 2001 to 47% in 2006 and 54% in 2011; the attainment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people narrowed by 4 percentage points between 2006 and 2011.

Employment and income 

In 2012–13, 60% of Indigenous people aged 15 to 64 were in the labour force and the unemployment rate was 21%. The unemployment rate for Indigenous people was 4.2 times as high as the rate for non-Indigenous people (based on age-standardised rates). Unemployment rates rose for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people between 2008 and 2012–13; however, the rate for Indigenous people rose more, leading to an increase in the unemployment gap of 4 percentage points.

A larger proportion of Indigenous workers were employed as professionals in 2011 than in 2006 (14% compared with 12%), while a smaller proportion were employed as labourers (18% in 2011 and 25% in 2006).

Average disposable income for Indigenous people aged 15 and over increased from $391 per week in 2006 to $488 in 2011 (taking inflation into account); however, the ratio of Indigenous to non-Indigenous average income remained steady at 0.7 over the period.

Housing and homelessness 

Home ownership rates among Indigenous households increased from 32% in 2001 to 36% in 2011.

More than 1 in 3 (35%) Indigenous households reported living in a dwelling with 1 or more major structural problems and about 1 in 6 (15%) reported living in a dwelling that was lacking working facilities in 2012–13.

The proportion of Indigenous households living in overcrowded conditions fell from 16% in 2001 to 13% in 2011. There was a narrowing of the gap in overcrowding levels by 3 percentage points over the decade.

Overcrowded households, by Indigenous status of household, 2001, 2006 and 2011

Vertical bar chart showing for Indigenous households, other households; per cent (0 to 18) on the y axis; year (2001 to 2011) on the x axis.  

The rate of homelessness among Indigenous people fell by 14% between 2006 and 2011, compared with an increase of 12% among non-Indigenous people. However, the homelessness rate for Indigenous people in 2011 was still nearly 14 times the rate for non-Indigenous people. Of Indigenous people who were homeless, 3 in 4 (75%) were considered as such because they were living in severely crowded dwellings.

Community safety 

The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations for assault among Indigenous people was 14 times as high as for non-Indigenous people (1,157 compared with 83 per 100,000 population) in 2012–13.

In 2013, Indigenous people aged 14 and over were significantly more likely than non-Indigenous people to indicate they had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident (38% and 26%) or an illicit drug-related incident (16% and 8.1%) in the previous year.

On an average day in 2012–13, 44% of young people aged 10–17 under youth justice supervision were Indigenous. Indigenous young people aged 10–17 were 14 times as likely as non-Indigenous young people to be under supervision. However, the rate of Indigenous young people under youth justice supervision declined between 2008–09 and 2012–13 (from 203 to 188 per 10,000 young people).

At 30 June 2014, 27% of the total adult prisoner population were Indigenous (9,264 people). The age-standardised imprisonment rate of Indigenous people increased between 2000 and 2014 (from 1,100 to 1,857 per 100,000 adults) while the non-Indigenous rate increased only slightly, resulting in an 82% increase in the gap over this period.

Age-standardised imprisonment rates in adult prisons, by Indigenous status, 2000 to 2014

Horizontal line chart showing for Indigenous, non-Indigenous; prisoners per 100,000 adults (0 to 2,000) on the y axis; year (2000 to 2014) on the x axis.  

Differences by remoteness 

In 2013, preschool attendance in the year before full-time schooling among Indigenous children was higher in Remote and very remote areas (75%) than in Major cities (65%) and regional areas (71%).

Information on student’s literary and numeracy levels are assessed in Australia annually through National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. These tests are conducted in May for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 and they cover 5 areas: reading, numeracy, persuasive writing, spelling, and grammar and punctuation. In 2014, the proportion of Indigenous students who met the national minimum standards in each of the 5 areas declined with increasing remoteness. For non-Indigenous students, the proportions were more similar across remoteness areas.

Years 3 and 9 students at or above the national minimum standard for reading and numeracy, by geolocation and Indigenous status, 2014

Vertical bar chart showing for reading (metropolitan, provincial, remote, very remote); per cent (0 to 100) on the y axis; Indigenous, non-Indigenous (Year 3 and 9 students) on the x axis.Vertical bar chart showing for numeracy (metropolitan, provincial, remote, very remote); per cent (0 to 100) on the y axis; Indigenous, non-Indigenous (Year 3 and 9 students) on the x axis.  

In 2012–13, labour force participation for Indigenous Australians aged 15 to 64 was significantly higher in non-remote areas (61%) than remote areas (55%). However, there was little difference in unemployment rates for Indigenous people across remoteness areas—21% in non-remote areas and 20% in remote areas.

Dwellings with structural problems were more commonly reported by Indigenous households in remote areas than in non-remote areas in 2012–13 (46% and 33%, respectively), as were dwellings with a lack of working facilities (31% and 12%).

Indigenous households in remote areas were more likely to live in overcrowded conditions. In 2011, 20% of Indigenous households in Remote areas and 39% of those in Very remote areas were living in overcrowded conditions, compared with 10% to 12% of those in non-remote areas.