Generation One24 Oct 2022

Record number of Indigenous Australians employed, but thousands still looking for work

Significant progress has been made, but more needs to be done to ensure employment parity is achieved.

An engineer working with an Indigenous apprentice on a solar farm installation. Photo Credit: Thurtell via Getty Images.

The latest Census data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a record number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are employed, but more than 36,000 are still looking for work at a time when the nation is suffering a severe skills shortage.

The Census release is a once-in-five-year update on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment and qualification outcomes. The update highlights that while significant progress has been made, more needs to be done to ensure Indigenous Australians are not locked out of employment and economic opportunities.

The latest ABS Census data shows:

  • there was a 25.4 per cent increase in the Indigenous population;
  • a record 259,754 Indigenous people were employed in 2021 — a 42.6 per cent increase from 2016;
  • 36,419 Indigenous people were looking for work in 2021, a 10 per cent drop from 2016; and
  • 266,428 Indigenous Australians had completed year 12 or higher education, an increase of 16.2 per cent since 2016.

The top five occupations for Indigenous Australians are community and personal service workers, labourers, professionals, technicians and trades workers, and clerical and administrative workers.

Generation One Director, Shelley Cable, said the data from today’s Census release is highly encouraging, and shows that tangible progress towards Indigenous employment parity is underway.

“While these results should be celebrated, a large gap remains, and it is concerning that while Australia is suffering a severe skills shortage, we still have more than 36,000 Indigenous Australians looking for work.

“Achieving Indigenous employment parity offers us an opportunity to unlock our economic potential as a country, transform our modern workplaces, and ensure Indigenous Australians have an equal share in our economic future and prosperity.

“Despite employment targets under the Closing the Gap Agreement being due for completion in 2031, the next time Australia will receive an update on Indigenous employment is expected in 2027.

“Five-yearly checks on an issue so important are not enough.

“Government and employers must step up to provide more regular data to accelerate progress and close the employment gap in our generation.”

Minderoo Foundation
by Minderoo Foundation

Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.

2 minute read
Share this article
Other Stories