Australian census statistics

Find statistics from Australian censuses from 1788 to present

History of Aboriginal population counts

Information about Aboriginal Australians has not been collected consistently.

There have been some censuses made specifically of the Aboriginal population.

Aboriginal Australians have also been counted in some censuses of the broader Australian population. Somtimes, they have deliberately been excluded.

A complicating factor is that government definitions of Aboriginality have varied over time. See Early Australian census records - Aboriginal Australians for more information.

This means that many statistics about Aboriginal Australians are flawed and inaccurate. Some of the statistics that are available are listed below.

For an excellent overview of census statistics relating to Aboriginal Australians, including:

  • when and how statistics were compiled
  • issues with the statistics that were collected
  • issues with other estimates of Aboriginal population numbers

see the following resources:

Finding data

The Board for the Protection of Aborigines (in Port Phillip District/Victoria) undertook regular censuses from 1839. The results of these were published in the Board's reports. Some of the Board's reports are reproduced in the books The Aborigines of Port Phillip, 1835-1839 and Aborigines and Protectors, 1838-1839. You can also read them online at the University of Melbourne's Digital Library. Ask us for advice about finding later reports.

Data about Aboriginal Australians from Commonwealth censuses was often published as specific reports, for example:

Making sense of the census: observations of the 2001 enumeration in remote Aboriginal Australia

Census of the Commonwealth of Australia, 30th June, 1933: census bulletin no. 24: summary relating to full-blood Aborigines

Enter the words terms census and Aborigin* into our catalogue to find more reports.

Check the tabs above for more statistics about Aboriginal Australians included in census resources.

Not all of the Library's collection of census data has been comprehensively catalogued, so please ask us for assistance if you are having difficulty locating the information that you require.