NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert: Aboriginal population will soar to more than one million in the next 20 years.Download the report here

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Dr Biddle said the indigenous population was likely to become “more urban and older”. He warned that “it won’t come without costs, as certain determinants of indigenous wellbeing, like cultural participation, language usage and acquisition and maintenance of country, will be more difficult to maintain.”

THE number of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders will soar to more than one million in the next 20 years, as the indigenous population rapidly ages and becomes more urbanised.

Report edited from the AUSTRALIAN PATRICIA KARVELAS Follow @PatKarvelas

A groundbreaking report,  released this month, predicts that the fastest indigenous population growth will be in Brisbane, Rockhampton, Cairns, southwestern Western Australia, South Headland, Townsville and Mackay.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE

The report forecasts that the indigenous population will grow from about 670,000 in 2011 to about 1.06 million by 2031, an increase of about 59 per cent, compared with an increase of about 20 per cent for the non-indigenous population.

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From making up about 3 per cent of the total population in 2011, indigenous people will comprise 3.9 per cent by 2031.

The paper, by the Australian National University’s Nicholas Biddle, finds that even excluding changes in whether people identify as indigenous, the regions in Queensland and Western Australia are projected to grow by at least 3 per cent a year.

Four regions — Apatula, Tennant Creek, Katherine and northwestern NSW — are projected to grow by less than 1 per cent per year over the period.

The indigenous population is projected to become much more urban over the next 20 years. In 2011, the indigenous population of Brisbane was estimated to be 65,000. This is slightly less than the roughly 69,000 indigenous people estimated to live in the whole of the Northern Territory.

By 2031, the Brisbane region is projected to have an indigenous population of a little more than 132,000 people, about 50 per cent more than the Northern Territory, with a little less than 89,000.

Although the total indigenous population is projected to grow by 59 per cent between 2011 and 2031, the population up until age 24 is only projected to grow by 47 per cent. This is still faster than the equivalent projection for the non-indigenous population in that age group, but is much slower than the indigenous population aged 65 and older, which is projected to grow by 200 per cent.

The 65-and-older cohort is forecast to comprise 6.4 per cent of the indigenous population in 2031, compared with about 3.4 per cent at the 2011 census.

This could have profound financial implications, as low rates of employment are likely to mean that indigenous retirees have far less in savings than their non-indigenous counterparts. It is also likely to have implications for health and disability policy.

Dr Biddle said there were two main reasons for the relatively rapid projected growth, including migration from non-urban to urban Australia, and high rates of intermarriage between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. “As the children of these partnerships tend to be identified as indigenous, there is therefore an additional contribution to growth.”

He said that even in the regions with the slowest growth, the indigenous population was likely to grow faster than the non-indigenous population.

The report, funded by the federal government, warns that a rapidly growing indigenous population could put budget pressures on programs. “For programs that are funded on a fixed-dollar basis per person, a large growth in the eligible indigenous population could mean that the cost of the program would need to be either increased or spread across a greater number of people,” it says.

Dr Biddle said the indigenous population was likely to become “more urban and older”. He warned that “it won’t come without costs, as certain determinants of indigenous wellbeing, like cultural participation, language usage and acquisition and maintenance of country, will be more difficult to maintain.”

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal health news alert: Aboriginal population will soar to more than one million in the next 20 years.Download the report here

  1. THE HON SHAYNE NEUMANN MP
    SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS
    SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING
    MEMBER FOR BLAIR

    MEDIA RELEASE

    INDIGENOUS POPULATION TIPPED TO RISE: NO TIME FOR CUTS MR ABBOTT

    With the Indigenous population expected to increase by 59 per cent over the next 20 years, the Federal Opposition has called on the Prime Minister to guarantee the Indigenous Affairs budget will not suffer at the hands of his Commission of Cuts.

    A report from the Australian National University’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) projects that the Indigenous population is expected to grow from 3.0 per cent of the population in 2011 to 3.9 per cent by 2031. CAEPR has produced the paper Population Projections – the latest in a series of works as part of the federally-funded Indigenous Population Project looking into the changing composition and distribution of a range of Indigenous outcomes.

    Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Shayne Neumann said these figures contrast with the 20 per cent increase expected in the non-Indigenous population over the next 20 years.

    “The changing Indigenous population has clear implications for government policies and highlights the need to quarantine Indigenous programs from any future cuts by the Coalition,” Mr Neumann said.

    “Most of that population growth will occur in urban areas, with Queensland and Western Australia expected to see the majority of that growth.”

    Indigenous population is growing fastest in the greater Brisbane region, Rockhampton, Townsville to Mackay, Cairns to Atherton, south-west Western Australia and Port Hedland.

    In 2011 the Indigenous population in the greater Brisbane area was 65,000. By 2031 the Brisbane region is projected to have an Indigenous population of more than 132,000.

    “The Abbott Government needs to build on the previous Labor Government’s unprecedented commitment to Closing the Gap and ensure funding is directed to meet the needs of the changing Indigenous population,” Mr Neumann said.

    “If the Prime Minister could find $360 million in tax cuts for just 16,000 of the wealthiest Australians during this so-called “Budget Emergency”, then he should be able to guarantee that Indigenous Australians do not become victims of his Commission of Cuts.”

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