Location and socioeconomic status: Torres Strait Islanders, 1996




Arthur, Bill (W S)

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Canberra, ACT : Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University


Using several categories of data from the 1996 Census, this paper assesses the socioeconomic status of Torres Strait Islanders compared to that of non-Indigenous people. As in earlier research, the paper points out that Torres Strait Islanders in Torres Strait live in a different economic and policy environment from those on the mainland, suggesting the need for different policy strategies to improve socioeconomic status. The data indicate that Islanders on the mainland are closer to achieving parity with non-Indigenous people than are those residing in Torres Strait. The paper proposes that the policy environment for Torres Strait Islanders also varies across the mainland, with only the Queensland Government making any particular concessions to Torres Strait Islanders as a specific group. However, overall, the data suggest that it is in Queensland that Islanders are furthest from parity with non-Indigenous people. In no State/Territory do Torres Strait Islanders own their own homes to the same extent as non-Indigenous people, nor are they as likely to have tertiary qualifications. Though the employment data are influenced by the fact that it includes those working in the Community Development Employment Projects scheme, it suggests that Islanders are close to parity with non-Indigenous people in waged-employment and self-employment in all States except Queensland and the Northern Territory. Islanders are approaching parity in private sector employment everywhere on the mainland, but appear highly dependent on public sector employment in all locations, except Victoria.



Torres Strait Islanders, socioeconomic status, home ownership, employment




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Open Access

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