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Person—Indigenous status, code N (Data Element)


Whether a person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin, as represented by a code. This is in accord with the first two of three components of the Commonwealth definition.


Data Element (this item)


This representation is based on the value domain for this data element, more information is available at " Indigenous status code N ".
Data Type Number
Format N
Maximum character length 1
Permissible Values
Value Meaning Start Date End Date
Permissible Values 4 Neither Aboriginal nor Torres Strait Islander origin - -
3 Both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin - -
2 Torres Strait Islander but not Aboriginal origin - -
1 Aboriginal but not Torres Strait Islander origin - -
Supplementary Values 9 Not stated/inadequately described - -



National Health Data Committee

National Community Services Data Committee


The following definition, commonly known as 'The Commonwealth Definition', was given in a High Court judgement in the case of Commonwealth v Tasmania (1983) 46 ALR 625.

'An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives'.

There are three components to the Commonwealth definition:

  • descent;
  • self-identification; and
  • community acceptance.

In practice, it is not feasible to collect information on the community acceptance part of this definition in general purpose statistical and administrative collections and therefore standard questions on Indigenous status relate to descent and self-identification only.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 1999. Standards for Social, Labour and Demographic Variables. Cultural Diversity Variables, Canberra. Viewed 3 August 2005.

This content Based on Australian Institute of Health and Welfare material. Attribution provided as required under the AIHW CC-BY licence.

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Inclusion in Data Set Specifications

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Use in indicators

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As a numerator

As a denominator

As a disaggregation