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Australian Bureau of Statistics uses a standard question (shown on the slide) in
all of its collections including the Census, and has recommended its use for all
other data collections. The question is included in the National Health Data
Dictionary and the National Community Services Data Dictionary, which Australian
States and Territories have agreed to use as the basis of their data collections
in those areas. This makes it more likely that the definitions used in the
numerator and denominator of rate-based health statistics will eventually be the
same. (Extensive information about Australian data definitions and standards in
the areas of health, community services and housing is available on the
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Knowledgebase at http://www.aihw.gov.au/
It is important to note that the question uses the word "origin", which does not correspond exactly to the wording of the Commonwealth Working Definition. Origin signifies ancestry and therefore would appear to be measuring "descent", the second element of the Working Definition (i.e. descent). However, it seems that at least some respondents interpret the word "origin" to include an aspect of self-identification. That is, some people who have Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ancestors but who do not self-identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander answer "no" to this question.
It is not clear to what extent people are consistent in their interpretation of and responses to this question. In any case, as long as the Australian Bureau of Statistics uses this question in the Census, estimates of the Indigenous population will be based on the answers to the question shown on the slide.