Identifying as Indigenous in Australia: Why people change and why it matters

Identifying as Indigenous in Australia: Why people change and why it matters

For at least 40 years there has been a sustained increase in the propensity of Indigenous people to identify as such in the census and in other surveys and administrative collections. This identification change has resulted in almost as much of Australia’s Indigenous population growth as births, deaths and migration.  Tim’s PhD research examines the how propensity to identify varies across time and place and how it varies between datasets, including the patterns of change from non-Indigenous to Indigenous and vice versa. Understanding this is important in interpreting measures of Indigenous disadvantage including whether Australia is closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous levels of disadvantage. He is developing theories on why people change how they identify over time, and in different contexts.  

Tim Carlton is a PhD student in the School of Demography. He graduated with a degree in Socio-Environmental Assessment and Policy in 1991. Tim has worked as a demographer in ABS, ACT Chief Minister’s Department and the Commonwealth Grants Commission. He produced the ABS’s first estimates of Indigenous life expectancy. In the Commonwealth Grants Commission, he has developed methods for measuring how different groups of Indigenous Australians have different levels of need for various State services. These methods inform the allocation of $12billion between States. His work on identification will refine these methods.  


Date & time

Tue 03 Nov 2020, 2.30–3.30pm


By Zoom (ID: 915 1095 6787 PW: 659951)


Tim Carlton, PhD Candidate, School of Demography, ANU


Susan Cowan


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