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The latest data available at the time of writing this report was from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This data, based on the Census data collected in 2011, has been used to benchmark the progress of the TSRA's Programmes against Closing the Gap targets. The data used throughout this section is taken from the ABS website (Census QuickStats) and was current at 30 July 2014.

The figures used in the 2013 - 2014 report are for the Torres Strait and the two communities in the Northern Peninsula Area (Bamaga and Seisia) that are included in the TSRA's area of responsibility. In past years figures for the Northern Peninsula Area communities of Umagico, New Mapoon and Injinoo have been included in TSRA reporting. The higher granularity of reporting now available from the ABS enables these figures to be excluded.

Population

The comparison of population changes across the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area (Bamaga and Seisia) is shown in tables 3-2 to 3-5.

Table 3-2 Total Population of the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
20062011200620112006201120062011
8,5767,4897841,0461652039,5258,738

Table 3-3 Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal Population of the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
20062011200620112006201120062011
7,1055,9216889391251377,9186,997

In 2011 the Torres Strait and Aboriginal population represented 80.1 per cent of the total population. This is a slight decrease from 83.1 per cent in 2006. The 2011 figure represents 4.5 per cent of the Torres Strait and Aboriginal population in Queensland and 1.3 per cent of the Torres Strait and Aboriginal population of Australia.

Table 3-4 Gender Balance of the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
20062011200620112006201120062011
Male49.7%45.1%47.8%49.4%50.9%49.1%49.5%47.9%
Female50.3%54.9%52.2%50.6%49.1%50.9%50.5%52.1%

Table 3-5 Average Age of Population of the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaRegion
20062011200620112006201120062011
2122222330312223

The population age has remained more or less consistent between the 2006 Census and 2011 Census. The age profile in Seisia is believed to be skewed by the number of non-resident visitors in the community at the time of the census.

Employment

Employment data for the Torres Strait columns in Table 3-6 relates only to Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people. The figures for Bamaga and Seisia include non-Indigenous employees. The 'not in the labour force' figures were reported in the 2006 census but not collected in 2011. These figures represent persons of working age who were not seeking employment.

Table 3-6 Employment in the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
Employment type20062011200620112006201120062011
Full Time2,7051,03922527771763,0961,392
Part Time83782841317938
Away from Workn/a226614066246
Unemployed137173182930158202
Total Labour2,8422,27533140487993,2602,778
Not in Labour Force1,352n/a134n/a27n/a1,513n/a

Across the region there is 8.8 per cent unemployment. This is 2.8 per cent higher than the Australian rate as at 30 June 2014, which was 6.0 per cent. Seasonally adjusted labour force participation rates for the region are not available. The significant variation in employment between 2006 and 2011 is due to differences in data collection between the two censuses. In 2006 only 'employed' was reported, with no distinction between full- and part-time positions. There has been a decrease of 603 persons in employment between the censuses. This is reflective of the overall decrease in population noted in Table 3-3 above.

Education

The number of people undertaking some form of education in 2013 - 2014 was 2,583. The education categories are shown in Table 3-7.

Table 3-7 Education in the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
Education level 2006 2011 2006 2011 2006 2011 2006 2011
Pre-Schooln/a136n/a15n/a0n/a151
Primaryn/a1,022n/a175n/a22n/a1,219
Secondaryn/a404n/a88n/a8n/a500
Technical and Furthern/a113n/a23n/a3n/a139
Universityn/a38n/a11n/a3n/a52
Othern/a49n/a7n/a0n/a56
Not Statedn/a395n/a54n/a17n/a466
Total02,157n/a373n/a53n/a2,583

The average school attendance in 2013 across years one through 12 was 84 per cent. This is consistent with the attendance rates in 2011 (85 per cent). This is well above the Australian average for Indigenous school attendance which in 2013 was 63.3 per cent, but below the non-Indigenous attendance rate of 89.3 per cent.

Income

The 2011 Census data indicates that household incomes of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people were again significantly lower than the reported Queensland and Australian average. This is reflected in Table 3-8.

Table 3-8 Median Wealth in the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia ($)

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
Income type20062011200620112006201120062011
Personaln/a360n/a577n/a506n/a411
Householdn/a952n/a1,117n/a785n/a971

The Queensland average for personal and household income was $587 and $1,253 per week. The Australian averages were $577 and $1,234. In the region, personal earnings are 70.0 per cent of Queensland average earnings and 71.2 per cent of Australian average earning. Household earnings are 78.6 per cent of both Queensland and Australian average earnings.

Housing Tenure

The 2011 ABS QuickStats (June 2014) report that there were 1,722 private dwellings out of a total of 2,291 dwellings. Of these 1,718 had tenure arrangements as show in Table 3-9.

Table 3-9 Tenure of Private Dwellings in the Torres Strait, including Bamaga and Seisia

Torres StraitBamagaSeisiaTotal (region)
Tenure type20062011200620112006201120062011
Owned116906055127195
Mortgaged263300342937
Rented1,4481,20019824549531,6951,498
Other161863002221
Not Stated4759781306767
Total1,6531,40021725670621,9401,718

The figures in Table 3-9 indicate a decrease in the number of houses owned in the region between 2006 and 2011. This may be representative of the decrease in population in the region reported in Table 3-3. There has been a 21.6 per cent increase in the number of properties under mortgage between 2006 and 2011, with all but one being in the Torres Strait communities. The lack of freehold land and long tenure leasehold land in the region remains a barrier to an increase in home ownership.

Health

A synthesis of data from the ABS and the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey shows that in 2013 - 2014:

  • Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people were three times as likely as non-Indigenous people to have diabetes/high sugar levels.
  • Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to have asthma.
  • Obesity rates for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal females and males were significantly higher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in almost every age group.
  • Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people rates for heart disease were significantly higher than the comparable rates for non-Indigenous people in all age groups from 15 to 54 years.

The mortality rate for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people continues to be significantly higher than that of non-Indigenous people.