Aboriginal Population Change in Australia

Aboriginal Population in Australia from 1788

Accurate numbers are not available, and estimates vary by different sources.

This is one source:

  • At the time of European settlement, there were around 250,000 Aboriginal people in Australia.
  • By 1920, that number had dropped to 80,000, and the race is “rapidly disappearing”
  • Numbers up to 1944 were between 70,000 and 80,000, with the mixed race proportion rising from under 20% in the early 1920s to around 35% in the early 1940s
  • In 2011, the Census stated there were 548,370 people of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin

Indigenous Population Estimates

  • 1788: 750,000-800,000 Aboriginal people
  • Numbers fell during the following century, as a result of disease and dispossession, to some 200,000 in the 1890s
  • Federation: 150,000 – 200,000, around 4% to 5% of the total Australian population of around 4.1 million
  • Up to 1940, the total Aboriginal population was stable around 150,000; the proportion of mixed origin rose to 35%
  • The population increased in the last half of the 20th century, at an average rate around 2% per annum
  • Changing propensity to identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and incomplete birth and death records prevent precise estimation over the post 1945 period
  • By 2001, the population was 459,000, around 2.3% of the population

Source: PDF file at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129544179

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