Knowledge and Resource Hub
26 February 2018

Income, poverty and inequality

This paper uses data from the 2006, 2011 and 2016 censuses to analyse the distribution of income within the Indigenous population, and between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, with particular attention to geographic variation. The findings  show a growing divergence between the incomes of Indigenous people living in urban areas and those in remote areas. Although Indigenous incomes were growing steadily in urban areas between 2011 and 2016, median disposable equivalised household income in very remote areas fell  over the same period. Furthermore, Indigenous cash poverty rates in very remote areas rose from 46.9% in 2011 to 53.4% in 2016. In contrast, during this period, poverty rates in urban areas continued to fall, reaching 24.4% in 2016. Changes in the difference in the incomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians followed a similar pattern. Although the increased incomes for Indigenous Australians living in urban and regional areas – where the majority of the Indigenous population lives – is a positive trend, this research highlights the great divergence in incomes of the Indigenous population across Australia. The authors argued that urgent policy action is needed to address the growing prevalence of poverty among Indigenous people in very remote Australia.