Woman with no Aboriginal ancestry claims to be Indigenous

Woman with no Aboriginal ancestry claims to be Indigenous
Woman with no Aboriginal ancestry claims to be Indigenous

Five years ago Mia decided she wanted to be Aboriginal. She is white and does not have any Indigenous ancestors.

Mia ticked a box to say she was Aboriginal at the last Census and has kept on ticking, filling out every government form that asked the question in the affirmative ever since.  

'I am a box-ticker,' she told Daily Mail Australia. 'I now identify as an Indigenous Australian when doing the Census and other paperwork.'

Mia, who did not want her full name published, said the change in identity made her feel 'more connected' with the land and Aboriginal people and better about herself. 

'Every Australia Day, we are made to feel uncomfortable for being Australian,' she said. 'I no longer feel sorry for being born in the country I love and cherish.'

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Mia is a 'box-ticker' who identifies as Indigenous when she has no Aboriginal ancestry. She says pretending to be Aboriginal makes her feel more connected with the land and Indigenous people. Stock image

Mia is a 'box-ticker' who identifies as Indigenous when she has no Aboriginal ancestry. She says pretending to be Aboriginal makes her feel more connected with the land and Indigenous people. Stock image

'Every Australia Day, we are made to feel uncomfortable for being Australian,' Mia said. 'I no longer feel sorry for being born in the country I love and cherish.' Protesters are pictured at An Invasion Day rally in Brisbane on January 26 this year

'Every Australia Day, we are made to feel uncomfortable for being Australian,' Mia said. 'I no longer feel sorry for being born in the country I love and cherish.' Protesters are pictured at An Invasion Day rally in Brisbane on January 26 this year

Mia claims to be one of a growing number of Australians who falsely identify as Indigenous. 'I did have a giggle after the last Census when my local council mentioned more Aboriginals living in the area,' she said.

Since the introduction of a Standard Indigenous Question in 1996 - 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?' - the Census count of Indigenous Australians has increased by 83.9 per cent. 

The last Census, conducted in 2016, estimated there were 798,400 Indigenous Australians - Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both - making up 3.3 per cent of the citizenry.

That number was an increase of 19 per cent - or 128,500 people - on the estimate of 669,900 from the previous 2011 Census.

Part of the increase can be attributed to Australians discovering a previously unknown forebear, or a late acceptance of a once-shunned Aboriginal ancestry. 

The vast majority was attributed to births - 72.7 per cent - but 21.4 per cent were deemed unexplainable. Many of these respondents are box-tickers, whose motives can only be guessed.

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Some are likely to be moved by a belief it is unfashionable to be white in modern Australia or that identifying as Aboriginal might lend claimants a greater connection to the land. 

Since the introduction of a Standard Indigenous Question in 1996 - 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?' - the Census count of Indigenous Australians has increased by 83.9 per cent. Protesters are pictured in Brisbane on Australia Day this year

Since the introduction of a Standard Indigenous Question in 1996 - 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?' - the Census count of Indigenous Australians has increased by 83.9 per cent. Protesters are pictured in Brisbane on Australia Day this year

A person's Indigenous status is determined by their response to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Standard Indigenous Question: 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?'

A person's Indigenous status is determined by their response to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Standard Indigenous Question: 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?'

Others who take their claims of Aboriginality further and attempt to access programs and services meant for real Indigenous Australians are ripping off their disadvantaged fellow citizens. 

Mia contacted Daily Mail Australia following a story about box-tickers and engaged in a string of correspondence. When pressed about her bona fides she disabled her email account. 

How the Census counts Indigenous Australians

A person's Indigenous status in the Census is determined by their response to the Australian Bureau of Statistics' Standard Indigenous Question: 'Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?'

There are three options to answer: 'No, "Yes, Aboriginal' and 'Yes, Torres Strait Islander'. 

This question also allows respondents to report they are both 'Aboriginal' and 'Torres Strait Islander' if that is how they identify.

The Standard Indigenous Question is based upon the federal government's definition of Indigenous status - two elements of self-identification - but does not include the third factor, that he or she is accepted as such by the community in which they live. 

The lack of that element is due to it being 'usually not practical to collect information on community acceptance in a survey or administrative data collection setting.'

The Standard Indigenous Question is also asked in the health, education, and crime and justice sectors in most Australian state and territory government

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