Aboriginal life is marked by highs and lows
A KEY measure of how Australia’s indigenous community is faring reveals strong improvements in education, housing and health but little change in safety, discrimination and prison and arrest rates.
About 11,200 people took part in the recently released six-yearly National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics survey took 10 months to complete and offers a broad insight into the barriers indigenous Australians face.
ABS senior reconciliation champion Dr Paul Jelfs said the results were mixed.
“The data is showing there is a strong upward trend in education achievements – both in Year 12 completion rates and nonschool qualifications – along with strong improvements across housing and health,” Dr Jelfs said.
More than half of the survey respondents rated their lives as eight out of 10 and one third of people living in remote areas felt their community “was a better place to live” compared to the previous 12 months.
Dr Jelfs said the most worrying trends related to prison, crime, violence and racism.
Just over one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders had experienced or been threatened with violence – and half of those attacks were committed by partners, former partners or family members.
Around one in seven people had been arrested and one in 10 respondents had spent time behind bars.
The survey also showed one in three people experienced racial discrimination.
Former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Professor Tom Calma said the first survey was carried out in 1994.
“There’s now 20 years of detailed data available for us to look at and discuss,” he said.
“We need this information to make sure that we are getting things right – we need to feel confident that our issues are accurately reflected in government policies, programs and services.”
INDIGENOUS SURVEY: An ABS survey shows worrying trends relating to prison and crime.