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Different demography, different impact and indigenous disadvantage

Natalie Jackson, University of Tasmania

Policies that appear to be ethnically neutral on the surface are often highly discriminatory underneath, purely as a result of ethnic and/or minority group differences in age structure. The situation can be likened to the concept of disparate impact, where one-size-fits-all policies can have a disproportionately negative impact on one or another group. This paper outlines the argument for Australia’s Aboriginal and Non-Indigenous populations across the period 1981-2001, applying it to trends in educational attainment and labour force status. It finds that a decline in the gap in labour force status corresponds with differences in age structure and the expansion of an Aboriginal-specific employment scheme (CDEP), while an increase in the gap in post-school qualifications corresponds with the same age structure disparities but the introduction of a universal Higher Education Contribution Scheme, and the mainstreaming of several elements of a previously positively discriminating income support scheme for Aboriginal students, ABSTUDY.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Poster Session 3