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Older people

50 years and over

Social and economic determinants

Social and economic circumstances are important determinants of health and wellbeing. This section outlines some of the main social and economic factors for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over.


In 2016, the highest level of educational attainment among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over was:

  • Year 10 (22% or 19,919)
  • Year 8 or below (19% or 17,001)
  • Certificate III or IV (16% or 14,784) (Figure OP 14).


In the labour force: Those who are currently employed, or unemployed but actively looking for and available to start working.

Not in the labour force: Those who are not actively looking for work, or are looking but unavailable to start working.

Employment rate: The percentage of the population who are employed.

Unemployment rate: The percentage of the labour force who are unemployed.

In 2016, among Indigenous Australians aged 50–64:

  • 53% (39,262) were in the labour force (Figure OP 15a).
  • 47% (34,645) were employed, with those living in Major cities more likely to be employed (53% or 14,068) than those living in Very remote areas (36% or 3,079) (Figure OP 15b).
  • The unemployment rate was 12% (4,614). The unemployment rate was higher in Very remote areas (18% or 669) and lowest in Major cities (9% or 1,365) (Figure OP 15c).

Household income

Equivalised household incomes are incomes that have been adjusted to make it possible to compare the incomes of households of different sizes and compositions. They reflect that larger households need more money to achieve the same standard of living than smaller households.

In 2016, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 43% (36,220) lived in households with a weekly equivalised household income of $499 or less.
  • Those living in non-remote areas (7% or 5,232) were more likely to live in a household with a weekly equivalised income of $1,750 or over than those living in remote areas (5% or 698) (Figure OP 16).


In 2016, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 47% (43,304) lived in a dwelling they owned outright or with a mortgage.
  • 31% (28,588) lived in social housing (dwellings rented through a state or territory housing authority or community housing).
  • 21% (19,089) lived in other homes being rented (Figure OP 17a).

On Census night in 2016, 3% (3,063) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over were homeless (Figure OP 17b). Of this group:

  • 57% (1,736) lived in severely crowded homes (requiring 4 or more additional bedrooms).
  • 17% (532) lived in improvised dwellings.
  • 12% (361) lived in supported accommodation for the homeless (Figure OP 17c).

Financial stress and food security

In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 53% (69,000) lived in households that, in an emergency, could not raise $2,000 in a week.
  • 46% (21,400) lived in households that had days without money for basic living expenses in the last 2 weeks.
  • 22% (30,300) lived in households than ran out of food in the last 12 months and could not afford to buy more (Figure OP 18).