Aboriginal Affairs Report 2017

About this report

The VGAAR report delivers the latest available information on how government is faring in responding to the systemic inequalities experienced by Aboriginal people in Victoria, according to the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework’s 6 strategic action areas.

The 6 strategic action areas are:

For each strategic action there are 12 headline indicators each with specific targets and measures.

Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2017 Victorian Government Aboriginal Affairs Report 2017PDF (3.91 MB)

Download the Report data

Maternal and early childhood health and development

Headline Indicator 1. Improve Aboriginal infant survival and health

Since 2007–09, the gap in perinatal mortality and low birth weight has been cut by more than half.

Aboriginal perinatal mortality rate

  • perinatal mortality is 1.4 times higher for babies born to Aboriginal mothers compared to non-Aboriginal mothers; however, this gap is closing
  • while rates can vary significantly from year to year due to the small numbers, recent data shows a decrease in perinatal mortality rates, with a rate of 13.6 per 1,000 babies born to Aboriginal mothers in 2013–15, a decrease from 21.2 per 1,000 in 2007–08

Infant health: the gap is narrowing.

Headline Indicator 2. Increase Aboriginal kindergarten participation

Since 2008, the gap in kindergarten participation has been cut by 80%.

Aboriginal kindergarten enrolment

  • the number of Aboriginal children enrolled in 4-year-old kindergarten continues to grow; 1,211 children (90.5%) were enrolled in 2016, up from 525 children (62%) in 2008
  • Aboriginal kindergarten participation rates are not far behind the Victoria-wide participation rate of 96.2%

Kindergarten participation: rates are approaching parity.

Headline Indicator 3. Reduce the rate of Aboriginal child protection substantiations

Child protection substantiations for Aboriginal children have increased markedly in recent years.

Child protection substantiations

  • Aboriginal children are 8.3 times more likely to be the subject of a child substantiation than non-Aboriginal children in Victoria
  • in 2015–16, there were 80 per 1,000 child protection substantiations, more than double the rate of 38 per 1,000 in 2007–08

  • as at 30 June 2016, there were 1,876 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, representing a 24% increase in 12 months and the highest number of children in care over the last decade (up from 1,511 Aboriginal children in out-of-home care as at 30 June 2015)

Child protection: we are not on track to close the gap.

Education and training

Headline Indicator 4. Improve literacy and numeracy in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 for Aboriginal students

Despite gains in school retention, fewer Aboriginal students meet NAPLAN benchmarks on average.

Proportion of students not meeting NAPLAN benchmarks at Year 9

  • the NAPLAN achievement gap is widest at Year 9, with between 15 and 20% of Aboriginal students not meeting the NAPLAN minimum standard for reading and literacy compared to between 4 and 6% of non-Aboriginal students
  • school attendance may be a contributing factor—Aboriginal students miss twice as much school as non-Aboriginal students on average
  • by Year 9, the gap in attendance equates to Aboriginal students receiving 6 months less schooling than their non-Aboriginal peers. This statistic remains unchanged since 2008

NAPLAN performance: we are not on track to close the gap.

Headline Indicator 5. Increase the proportion of Aboriginal young people aged 20­–24 who have completed at least Year 12 or equivalent

From Kindergarten to Year 12, more Aboriginal students are staying in school longer.

Aboriginal Year 12 attainment rate

  • in 2016, the Aboriginal Year 10 retention rate was 99.8%, a significant increase from 81.7% in 2008
  • the gap in Year 12 attainment is also closing. Between 2008 and 2014–15, the proportion of Aboriginal students who completed Year 12 or equivalent grew from 57.6% to 68.5%
  • after Year 12, 3 out of 4 Aboriginal school leavers go on to further study. Of these, about one-third commence a Bachelor’s degree and one-fifth commence vocational training

Year 12 or equivalent attainment: the gap is narrowing.

Economic participation

Headline Indicator 6. Increase Aboriginal labour force participation

Aboriginal people remain under-represented in the workforce.

Workforce participation

  • the unemployment rate is almost 3 times higher for Aboriginal Victorians than the general Victorian population (16% compared to 6%)
  • since 2008, the number of employed Aboriginal Victorians increased 2.5 percentage points, from 49.5% to 52.7%, while the general Victorian employment rate rose 9 percentage points, from 62.2% to 71.5%. Proportionately, there are 74 Aboriginal people for every 100 non-Aboriginal people in the workforce.
  • underemployment and lower workforce participation translates to about $165 less in median income and $219 less a week in household income. This puts Aboriginal earners and households well below the median income for Victoria.

Workforce participation: we are not on track to close the gap.

Headline Indicator 7. Increase workforce participation by Aboriginal people in the public sector

At 2016, 374 Aboriginal people were employed in the Victorian Public Service (VPS), representing 0.9% of the VPS workforce.

Aboriginal staff in the VPS

  • Aboriginal staffing in the VPS is around 0.9%. Progress towards the 1% Aboriginal public service staff target has been consistent since 2008. However, significant effort is required to meet the new target of 2% by 2022.

Staffing target: the VPS will need to grow by ~400 Aboriginal staff.

Health, housing and disability

Headline Indicator 8. Improve the health status of Aboriginal Victorians

Statistics show disparities in health, housing and disability endure.

  • the proportion of Aboriginal Victorians who rated their health as excellent or very good is declining. In 2007–08, about half of all Aboriginal Victorian adults reported excellent or very good health (47%); compared to 40.2% in 2014–15.
  • according to latest statistics in 2016, Aboriginal Victorians continued to be at a higher risk than the general Victorian population for psychological distress and presentation at an emergency department with self-harm or alcohol-related injuries.
  • rates of smoking for Aboriginal Victorians are still disproportionately high but have declined from 47.6% in 2007–08 to 39.8% in 2014–15.

Health, housing and disability: we are not on track to close the gap.

Safe families and communities and equitable justice outcomes

Headline Indicator 9. Reduce the incidence of Aboriginal family violence

Aboriginal Victorians are over-represented in family violence incident reports by more than four times for affected family members and five times for alleged offenders.

Family violence incidents between 2007 and 2017 involving an Aboriginal alleged offender or victim

  • in the last 10 years, the total number of family violence incident reports in Victoria has increased by one and a half times, from 31,228 in 2007–08 to 77,725 in 2016–17
  • despite making up less than 1% of the Victorian population, Aboriginal people accounted for 4% of all affected family (21,401) member reports and 5% of all alleged offender reports (25,666) made in the last 10 years
  • reports show a high rate of reoccurring offending and victimisation: 81% of Aboriginal affected family members had previously reported a family violence incident to police

Family violence: rates of reporting have increased significantly.

Headline Indicator 10. Reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal people under justice supervision

Aboriginal Victorians are over-represented in the justice system.

Justice supervision

  • Aboriginal youth are significantly over-represented in the justice system at 13 times the rate of non-Aboriginal Victorian youth. Aboriginal adults are over-represented by 11 times the rate of non-Aboriginal Victorian adults
  • despite Aboriginal people making up less than 1% of Victoria's population, Aboriginal Victorian adults alone account for 8% of the prison population and 6.3% of the community corrections population

Justice supervision: we are not on track to close the gap.

Headline Indicator 11. Reduce the proportion of Aboriginal people who return to prison within two years of release

Once Aboriginal people enter the prison system, they are 1.3 times more likely to return to prison than non-Aboriginal people.


  • more than half of Aboriginal prisoners (55%) released in 2013–14 returned to prison under sentence within 2 years, compared to 42% of non-Aboriginal prisoners

Recidivism: we are not on track to close the gap.

Strong culture, engaged people and confident communities

Headline Indicator 12. Strengthen Aboriginal culture and support Aboriginal people’s engagement with community and society

Aboriginal Victorians experience a high degree of social support from their local communities and families; however, experiences of racism are too common.


  • over half (57%) of Aboriginal Victorians participated in cultural activities in the last 12 months
  • 93% reported having strong social networks they can draw on in times of crisis
  • 37% of Aboriginal Victorians felt they had been unfairly treated at least once in the previous 12 months because they were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander