Small Area Indicators of Disadvantage for the Indigenous Population

Small Area Indicators of Disadvantage for the Indigenous Population

The aim of this project is to derive a dataset that will allow users to obtain small area indicators of disadvantage for the Indigenous population along with social and demographic variables like age, sex, and family type. The indicators include for the first time domains that cannot be obtained through simplistic approaches to disadvantage. These domains include community connectedness, cultural attachment and financial stress.
Example map - number of people with high levels of cultural participation

Example map – number of people with high levels of cultural participation

Project Overview

There are no datasets in Australia that are able to provide estimates of Indigenous disadvantage across a number of relevant domains for small areas. The Australian Census of Population and Housing can provide basic data across limited domains on disadvantage for Indigenous people for small areas, however disadvantage is far more complex than what can be provided by the Census, and can include connectedness to the community; involvement in traditional cultural ceremonies; and connection to nature and the land.

These types of indicators are available on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), but the NATSISS sample is not large enough to derive estimates for small areas. Therefore, spatial disadvantage for Indigenous people, including indicators specifically for this group, cannot be derived.

This project aims to overcome this problem using spatially micro-simulated small area indicators of Indigenous disadvantage from the NATSISS. The project provides a set of indicators across a number of domains, and includes social data like psychological stress and social and emotional wellbeing, along with demographic data like age, sex and family type. These indicators are available not only to researchers, but also to Indigenous groups and Government.

Project output

  • Review of the literature on Indigenous disadvantage and domains for the indicators
  • Creation of a synthetic dataset based on the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Indigenous Social Survey (NATSISS) to enable benchmarking
  • Extraction of relevant reliable small area (SLA) variables from the Census to benchmark to
  • Benchmarking of synthetic survey data to Census variables to derive weights for each SLA
  • Validation of indicators and other social and demographic data available
  • Creation of a REST based service to host the final dataset
  • Addition of the final indicators to the REST based service for users to extract indicators of Indigenous disadvantage

Project Team Overview

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) is a research centre within the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra conducting research on disadvantage on a number of domains. In recent years, they have developed a spatial microsimulation model that allows small area estimates of disadvantage to be derived from survey unit record files. The method allows tables to be derived using many of the variables on the original unit record file. The method has been used to derive small area estimates of poverty by family type; housing stress; and projections of poverty rates for different age groups.

The Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research is a research centre at the Australian National University (ANU) conducting research into Indigenous economic and social policy. Recent work has been on small area Indigenous disadvantage using Census data, and this project adds to this work by Dr Biddle.

Robert Tanton betterProf Robert Tanton (Main Contact)
Team Leader
University of Canberra
Nick-Biddle_webDr Nick Biddle
Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR)
ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences
YogiDr Yogi Vidyattama
University of Canberra


Project Partners

Print Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research