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The realisation for Indigenous people in Australia to be counted in official statistics occurred in 1967. The identification of Indigenous people in Australia in national data highlights a range of historical and contemporary issues that require our attention. This includes how Indigenous people have been defined and by whom, as well as how identification is operationalised in official data collections. Furthermore, the completeness and accuracy of Indigenous people identified in the data and the impact this has on the measurement of health and wellbeing must also be taken into account. Official national reporting of Indigenous people is calculated using data from censuses, vital statistics, and existing administrative data collections and/or surveys. In alignment with human rights standards, individuals in Australia can opt to self-identify as ‘Indigenous’ in the data. Australia’s colonial context in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data is derived results in considerations about the sovereign rights of Indigenous people globally in the use of data and how this can be actioned through data governance processes.
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