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National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey

Statistics about long-term health conditions, disability, lifestyle factors, physical harm and use of health services

Reference period
2018 - 2019

Key statistics

  • 46% of people had at least one chronic condition, up from 40% in 2012–13.
  • 17% of people two years and over had anxiety and 13% had depression.
  • 37% of people 15 years and over smoked daily, down from 41% in 2012–13.
  • 37% of children 2–14 years were overweight/obese, up from 30% in 2012–13.

Main features

Health

  • More than four in 10 (46%) people had at least one chronic condition that posed a significant health problem in 2018–19, up from 40% in 2012–13.
  • The proportion of people with asthma in remote areas (9%) was around half the proportion for people living in non-remote areas (17%).
  • More than one in 10 people aged two years and over reported having anxiety (17%) or depression (13%).
  • More than four in 10 (45%) people aged 15 years and over rated their own health as excellent or very good in 2018–19, up from 39% in 2012–13.
     

Risk factors

  • The proportion of people aged 15 years and over who smoked every day decreased from 41% in 2012–13 to 37% in 2018–19.
  • The proportion of children aged 2–14 years who were overweight or obese increased from 30% in 2012–13 to 37% in 2018–19.
  • The proportion of people aged 15 years and over who had consumed the recommended number of serves of fruit per day declined for those living in remote areas from 49% in 2012–13 to 42% in 2018–19.
  • Sugar sweetened drinks were usually consumed every day by around one-quarter (24%) of people aged 15 years and over.
     

Use of health services

  • More than half (57%) of children aged 2–17 years had seen a dentist or dental professional in the last 12 months.
  • The proportion of people who did not see a GP when needed in the last 12 months was higher for those living in non-remote areas (14%) than remote areas (8%).


The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey collected data on a broad range of health-related topics, language, cultural identification, education, labour force status, income and discrimination — for full details see Appendix - survey topics.

Chronic conditions

Chronic conditions are long-term health conditions that contribute to premature mortality and morbidity. People diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions often have complex health needs, poorer quality of life and die prematurely [1].

More than four in 10 (46%) people had one or more selected chronic conditions [2], up from 2012–13 (40%).

The proportion of people with one or more selected chronic conditions was:

  • about the same for males (44%) and females (47%)
  • higher for people living in non-remote areas (48%) than in remote areas (33%).
     

Footnotes

1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 'Australia's Health 2018, 3.3 Chronic Conditions' https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/6bc8a4f7-c251-4ac4-9c05-140a473efd7b/aihw-aus-221-chapter-3-3.pdf.aspx; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. Includes arthritis, asthma, back problems (dorsopathies), cancer (malignant neoplasms), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, heart, stroke and vascular disease, kidney disease, mental and behavioural conditions, and osteoporosis.

Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

​​​​​​​Asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition that can usually be managed through treatment, such as medication use and managing lifestyle behaviours, which can assist in avoiding and reducing asthma symptoms [1].

More than one in 10 (16%) people reported having asthma, about the same as in 2012–13 (18%).

The proportion of people with asthma was:

  • higher for females (18%) than males (13%)
  • around double for people living in non-remote areas (17%) when compared with those living in remote areas (9%).
     

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a chronic condition associated primarily with smoking and environmental factors such as working or living in areas where there is dust, gas, chemical fumes, smoke or air pollution [2].

More than three in 100 (3.4%) people reported having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, about the same as in 2012–13 (4.1%).

The proportion of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was:

  • higher for females (4.3%) than males (2.5%)
  • more than twice as high for people living in non-remote areas (3.8%) when compared with those living in remote areas (1.4%)
  • higher for people aged 55 years and over (13%) than for any other age group.
     

Footnotes

1. National Asthma Council Australia, How is Asthma Treated? http://www.nationalasthma.org.au/understanding-asthma/how-is-asthma-managed; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. Lung Foundation Australia, August 2018, COPD the Basics, https://lungfoundation.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Book-COPD-The-Basics-Sep2018.pdf; last accessed 15/11/19.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic condition which, if left undiagnosed or poorly managed, can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety or blindness [1]. The two most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. Diabetes was the second leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2018 [2].

The proportion of people who reported having diabetes remained steady at 8%, the same as in 2012–13.

The proportion of people with diabetes was:

  • the same for males and females (both 8%)
  • higher for people living in remote areas (12%) than in non-remote areas (7%).


The proportion of people with diabetes generally increased with age. By 55 years and over, 35% of people had diabetes, more than 11 times higher than the proportion for people aged 25–34 years (3%).

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  1. The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 for 35-44 years, 45-54 years and 55 years and over is not statistically significant.
     

Footnotes

1. Diabetes Australia, What is Diabetes?, https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/what-is-diabetes; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. Sourced from Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

Heart disease

Heart disease encompasses a number of chronic conditions associated with lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, being inactive, being overweight and an unhealthy diet [1]. Heart disease was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2018 [2].

The proportion of people who reported having heart disease increased from 4% in 2012–13 to 5% in 2018–19.

The proportion of people with heart disease was:

  • about the same for males (6%) and females (5%)
  • the same for people living in non-remote areas and remote areas (both 5%).


The proportion of people with heart disease generally increased with age, from 1% for people aged 25–34 years to 26% for people aged 55 years and over.

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Footnotes

1. Heart Foundation, Keep Your Heart Healthy, http://heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/keep-your-heart-healthy; last accessed 14/11/2019.
2. Sourced from Causes of Death, Australia (cat. no. 3303.0).

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is a chronic condition which is often associated with other chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. If kidney disease is detected early enough, the progress of the disease can be slowed and sometimes halted [1].

The proportion of people who reported having kidney disease (1.8%) was about the same as in 2012–13 (1.7%).

The proportion of people with kidney disease was:

  • around double for females (2.3%) when compared with males (1.2%)
  • higher for people living in remote areas (3.4%) than non-remote areas (1.4%).


Eight per cent of people aged 55 years and over reported having kidney disease.

Footnote

1. Better Health Channel, Kidney disease, 2018, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/kidney-disease; last accessed 14/11/2019.

Mental health

​​​​​​​Mental and behavioural conditions

Mental and behavioural conditions encompass a number of chronic conditions resulting from a complex interplay of biological, social, psychological, environmental and economic factors, and can significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people [1].

Around one-quarter (24%) of people aged two years and over reported having a mental or behavioural condition [2].

The proportion of people with a mental or behavioural condition was:

  • about the same for males (23%) and females (25%)
  • around three times higher for people living in non-remote areas (28%) than remote areas (10%)
  • around three in 10 for most age groups, except those aged 2–14 years (15%) and 15–24 years (24%) [3].


Anxiety was the most common mental or behavioural condition reported (17%) by people aged two years and over. The proportion with anxiety was higher for females (21%) than males (12%).

Depression (including feelings of depression) was the second most common condition reported (13%). The proportion of females who reported depression (16%) was higher than for males (10%).

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  1. Includes anxiety disorder, including generalised anxiety disorder.
  2. Includes feeling depressed.
  3. Includes attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorders for children, adolescents and adults, other behavioural and emotional problems with usual onset in childhood/adolescence, schizophrenia-related problems, and intellectual impairment.
     

Anxiety and depression were the most common conditions reported for most age groups. The only exception was for children aged 2–14 years, where behavioural or emotional problems (11%) was the most common condition.

    Psychological distress

    A person’s level of psychological distress [4] provides an indication of their mental health and wellbeing.

    Around three in 10 (31%) people aged 18 years and over experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress.

    The proportion of people who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress was:

    • about the same as 2012–13 (30%)
    • higher for females (35%) than males (26%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (31%) and remote areas (28%)
    • about the same for all age groups.
       

    Footnotes

    1. Australian Health Ministers, 'Fourth National Mental Health Plan: an Agenda for Collaborative Government Action in Mental Health 2009–2014', 2009, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-f-plan09-toc; last accessed 14/11/2019.
    2. See Appendix - mental health and wellbeing data for more information.
    3. The difference between people aged between 15–24 years and 55 years and over, and between 25–34 years, 35-44 years, 45–54 years and 55 years and over, is not statistically significant.
    4. Based on the modified Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K5). See Appendix - mental health and wellbeing data for more information.

    Ear disease and hearing problems

    For many people, hearing loss is caused by long-term otitis media (middle ear infection) in childhood. Children who experience hearing loss may have difficulty following what is being taught at school, which may lead to poorer educational and employment outcomes in later life [1].

    Ear disease or hearing problems (self-reported)

    The proportion of people who reported having ear disease or hearing problems remained about the same between 2012–13 (12%) and 2018–19 (14%).

    The proportion of people with ear disease or hearing problems was:

    • the same for males and females (both 14%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (14%) and remote areas (13%).
       

    The proportion of people with ear disease or hearing problems generally increased with age. It increased from more than one in 10 for people aged 25–34 years (12%) or 35–44 years (15%) to more than three in 10 (34%) for people aged 55 years and over.

    One in 10 (10%) people reported having partial or complete deafness in one or both ears.

    The proportion of children aged 0–14 years who were deaf in one or both ears (4%) was about the same as in 2012–13 (3%) [2]. The proportion of children aged 0–14 years with long-term otitis media also did not change between 2012–13 and 2018–19 (both 3%) [2].

    Measured levels of hearing

    A voluntary hearing test was also offered at the time of interview for people aged seven years and over who did not have a cochlear implant. See Hearing data (appendix) for more information.

    The hearing test indicated more than four in 10 (43%) people aged seven years and over had hearing loss in one or both ears at the time of interview. The proportion of people with measured hearing loss:

    • was about the same for males (43%) and females (42%)
    • was higher for people living in remote areas (59%) than non-remote areas (39%)
    • increased with age from 35 years and over, doubling from 41% of people aged 35–44 years to 82% of people aged 55 years and over.


    More than two in 10 (23%) people had measured hearing loss in both ears.

    Measured hearing loss at the time of interview does not necessarily indicate long-term hearing loss. For example, hearing loss on the day of the test may have been due to a temporary cause (like a cold) or limitations with the hearing test (such as being undertaken with background noise present rather than in a soundproof room). However, the difference between reported and measured hearing loss suggests a person may require further medical review for undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss.

    Overall, almost eight in 10 (79%) people who had measured hearing loss did not report having long-term hearing loss. The proportion of people with measured hearing loss was:

    • more than three times higher than reported long-term hearing loss (43% compared with 12%)
    • higher than reported long-term hearing loss across all age groups
    • more than six times higher than reported long-term hearing loss for children aged 7–14 years (29% compared with 4.3%).
       
    Download
    1. Persons who reported hearing problems that have lasted, or are expected to last, for six months or more.
    2. Persons with hearing loss in one or both ears based on results of voluntary, self-administered hearing test undertaken by respondents without a cochlear implant at the time of interview.
       

    Disability

    There are many different kinds of disability — some result from accidents, illness or genetic disorders, while others have no known cause. People with more restrictive disabilities may have difficulty with mobility, communication or caring for themselves. Having a disability may also affect a person’s participation in education, employment and social or community activities.

    Almost four in 10 (38%) people reported they had a disability. The proportion of people with disability was about the same for:

    • males (39%) and females (37%)
    • people living in non-remote areas (38%) and remote areas (37%).


    Eight per cent of people had a profound or severe disability [1]. The proportion of people with a profound or severe disability was:

    • about the same for males (9%) and females (8%)
    • higher for people living in non-remote areas (9%) than remote areas (6%).
       

    Footnote

    1. Refers to people with a profound or severe limitation when performing at least one selected task related to mobility, communication or self-care. See Disability in Methodology.

    Alcohol consumption

    In general, alcohol is consumed in Australia at levels of low immediate risk. However, some people drink at levels that may increase their risk of developing health problems over the course of their life, as well as increasing their risk of alcohol-related injury.

    Single occasion risk

    A person’s alcohol consumption risk level was assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2009 guideline for single occasion risk [1].

    More than half (54%) of people aged 18 years and over had exceeded the single occasion risk guideline (more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the last 12 months).

    The proportion of people who had exceeded the single occasion risk guideline was:

    • lower than in 2012–13 (57%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (54%) and remote areas (53%)
    • lower for people aged 55 years and over (34%) than for any other age group.


    The proportion of people aged 18 years and over who had exceeded the single occasion risk guideline was higher for males (65%) than females (43%). For those aged 55 years and over, the proportion for males (47%) was around double the proportion for females (23%).

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    The National Health and Medical Research Council’s guidelines recommend no alcohol for people aged 15–17 years. When assessed against the single occasion risk guideline, 18% of people aged 15–17 years had exceeded it.

    Lifetime risk

    A person’s alcohol consumption risk level was assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2009 guideline for lifetime risk [1].

    Two in 10 (20%) people aged 18 years and over had exceeded the lifetime risk guideline (consumed more than two standard drinks per day on average).

    The proportion of people who exceeded the lifetime risk guideline was:

    • the same as in 2012–13 (20%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (21%) and remote areas (17%).
       

    The proportion of people aged 18 years and over who had exceeded the lifetime risk guideline was three times higher for males (30%) than females (10%). For those aged 18–24 years, the proportion for males (33%) was around four times higher than the proportion for females (8%).

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    ​​​​​​​People who had not consumed alcohol

    Around one-quarter (26%) of people aged 18 years and over had not consumed alcohol in the last 12 months or had never consumed alcohol, up from 2012–13 (23%).

    The proportion of people who had not consumed alcohol or never consumed alcohol was:

    • higher for females (31%) than males (19%)
    • higher for people living in remote areas (37%) than non-remote areas (23%).
       

    Footnote

    1. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how single occasion and lifetime risk was assessed using these guidelines.

    Diet, weight and exercise (adult)

    ​​​​​​​Fruit and vegetable consumption

    A balanced diet, including sufficient fruit and vegetables, reduces a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

    Fruit and vegetable consumption is assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines [1].

    Almost four in 10 (39%) people aged 15 years and over met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of fruit per day.

    The proportion of people who met the fruit guidelines was:

    • lower than in 2012–13 (43%)
    • higher for females (44%) than males (35%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (39%) and remote areas (42%).


    The proportion of people living in remote areas who met the fruit guidelines declined from 49% in 2012–13 to 42%.

    Download
    1. The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 is not statistically significant.

    Source(s): 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
     

    Four per cent of people aged 15 years and over met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of vegetables per day.

    The proportion of people who met the vegetable guidelines was:

    • the same as in 2012–13 (both 4%)
    • three times higher for females (6%) than males (2%)
    • the same for people living in non-remote areas and remote areas (both 4%).
       

    Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

    Sugar sweetened and diet drinks have little nutritional value and are not an essential part of a healthy diet. High and frequent intake of these drinks may lead to adverse health outcomes, such as dental caries, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and an increased risk of weight gain.

    Around seven in 10 (71%) people aged 15 years and over usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once a week.

    The proportion of people who usually consumed sugar sweetened or diet drinks was:

      • higher for males (75%) than females (67%)
      • higher for people living in remote areas (77%) than non-remote areas (69%)
      • lowest for those aged 45–54 years (63%) and 55 years and over (49%), compared with around 80% for people aged less than 45 years [2].


      The proportion of people aged 15 years and over who usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks (61%) was more than three times higher than those who usually consumed diet drinks (19%) at least once a week. Around one-quarter (24%) of people usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks daily, and 6% consumed diet drinks daily.

      Weight

      Being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing long-term health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes, while being underweight can also be a health risk factor for some people.

      Body Mass Index is an index of weight-for-height, used to classify people as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.

      Based on their measured height and weight:

      • around seven in 10 (71%) people aged 15 years and over were overweight or obese — almost three in 10 (29%) were overweight and more than four in 10 (43%) were obese
      • one-quarter (25%) of people were in the normal weight range
      • 4% of people were underweight.
         

      The proportion of people who were obese was higher for females (45%) than for males (40%). However, there were no significant differences in the proportion of males and females who were:

      • overweight (31% compared with 27%)
      • normal weight (26% compared with 24%)
      • underweight (3% compared with 5%).
         

      The proportion of people who were overweight/obese was:

      • higher than in 2012–13 (71% compared with 66%)
      • more than double (71%) the proportion of people who were underweight/normal weight (29%)
      • higher for people living in non-remote areas (73%) than in remote areas (64%).
         

      The increase between 2012–13 and 2018–19 was driven by the proportion of people who were overweight or obese increasing from 67% to 73% in non-remote areas.

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      1. Body Mass Index category, based on measured height and weight.
      2. The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 is not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
       

      The proportion of people who were overweight or obese increased with age from 15–17 years (42%) until it steadied at around 80% for people aged 35–44 years and over [3].

      Waist circumference

      Waist circumference is a commonly used measure of whether a person is of a healthy weight. It provides a good estimate of body fat and, in conjunction with Body Mass Index, can indicate a person's potential risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

      Around seven in 10 (71%) people aged 18 years and over had a measured waist circumference that put them at increased risk of developing chronic disease [4].

      The proportion of people with a measured waist circumference that put them at increased risk of developing chronic disease was:

      • higher for females (81%) than males (60%)
      • highest for people aged 55 years and over (86%).
         
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      1. A waist measurement of 94 centimetres (cm) or more for men or 80 cm or more for women.
         

      ​​​​​​​Physical activity (non-remote areas only)

      The benefits of regular physical activity include reducing the risk of health conditions such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain forms of cancer, depression and some injuries [5]. In addition, physical activity is an important contributor for achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass.

      Physical activity is assessed based on an interpretation of Department of Health guidelines [6]. To meet the 2014 guidelines, people needed to do varying combinations of some or all of the following physical activities, depending on their age:

      • walking for transport
      • walking for fitness, recreation or sport
      • moderate intensity exercise
      • vigorous intensity exercise
      • strength or toning activities.
         

      Almost nine in 10 (89%) people aged 15 years and over did not meet the physical activity guidelines for their age. There were no significant differences by sex or by age group.

      More than two in 10 (22%) people had done no physical activity at all in the last week.

      The proportion of males (20%) and females (23%) who had done no physical activity was about the same.

      Footnotes

      1. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed using these guidelines.
      2. The differences between people aged 15–17 years, 18–24 years, 25–34 years and 35–44 years were not statistically significant.
      3. The differences between people aged 35–44 years, 45–54 years and 55 years and over were not statistically significant.
      4. A waist measurement of 94 centimetres (cm) or more for men or 80 cm or more for women.
      5. Department of Health, Physical Activity, 2019, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/phy-activity; last accessed 15/11/2019.
      6. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how physical activity was assessed using these guidelines.

      Diet and weight (children)

      Healthy practices established early in life, such as a balanced diet with sufficient fruit and vegetables and limited intake of sugar sweetened and diet drinks, may continue into adolescence and adulthood, reducing a person's risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese in childhood may increase a person's risk of developing such health conditions later in life.

      Fruit and vegetable consumption

      Fruit and vegetable consumption is assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines [1].

      Almost seven in 10 (69%) children aged 2–14 years met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of fruit each day.

      Seven per cent of children met the guidelines for the recommended number of serves of vegetables per day.

      Sugar sweetened and diet drink consumption

      More than six in 10 (63%) children aged 2–14 years usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks or diet drinks at least once a week.

      The proportion of children who usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks (59%) at least once a week was more than six times higher than those who usually consumed diet drinks (9%) at least once a week. Two in 10 (20%) children usually consumed sugar sweetened drinks daily, and 2% consumed diet drinks daily.

      Weight

      Body Mass Index is an index of weight-for-height, used to classify people as underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese.

      Based on measured height and weight:

      • more than half (54%) of children aged 2–14 years were in the normal weight range
      • around one-quarter (24%) of children were overweight and more than one in 10 (13%) were obese
      • around one in 10 (9%) children were underweight.
         

      The proportion of children who were overweight or obese increased from 30% in 2012–13 [2] to 37% in 2018–19.

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      1. Based on measured height and weight.
      2. The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 for underweight and obese is not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
       

      There were no significant differences in the proportion of boys and girls who were:

      • normal weight (55% compared with 53%)
      • overweight (22% compared with 27%) or obese (12% compared with 13%), or
      • underweight (10% compared with 7%).
         

      Footnotes

      1. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed using these guidelines.
      2. Sourced from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Updated Results, Australia (cat. no. 4727.0.55.006).

      High blood pressure

      ​​​​​​​Hypertension (high blood pressure)

      Hypertension is a long-term health condition that can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease [1].

      The proportion of people who reported hypertension increased to 8%, up from 5% in 2012–13.

      The proportion of people with hypertension was:

      • the same for males and females (both 8%)
      • higher for people living in remote areas (10%) than non-remote areas (8%).
         

      The increase between 2012–13 and 2018–19 was driven by the proportion of people with hypertension doubling from 4% to 8% in non-remote areas.

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      1. The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 for people living in remote areas is not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
       

      The proportion of people who reported having hypertension increased with age from 25 years and over, from 3% of people aged 25–34 years to 38% of people aged 55 years and over.

      Measured high blood pressure

      Blood pressure measurements were also voluntarily taken at the time of interview for people aged 18 years and over. See Appendix - physical measurements for more information.

      More than two in 10 (23%) people aged 18 years and over had a high blood pressure reading at the time of interview. The proportion of people with a high reading at the time of interview was:

      • higher than in 2012–13 (20%)
      • higher for males (25%) than females (21%)
      • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (23%) and remote areas (22%).
         

      A high reading at the time of interview does not necessarily mean the person had hypertension. However, it can indicate a person may have undiagnosed or untreated hypertension. The gap between a high reading and reported hypertension narrowed as age increased from 25–34 years onwards.

      • For those aged 25–34 years, the proportion with a high reading (16%) was around five times higher than the proportion with hypertension (3%).
      • By 55 years and over, the proportion of people with a high reading (37%) and reported hypertension (38%) was about the same.
         
      Download
      1. The difference between hypertension and measured blood pressure for people aged 55 years and over is not statistically significant.
         

      Footnote

      1. Heart Foundation, Blood pressure, http://heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-pressure; last accessed 14/11/2019.

      Physical harm

      Experiences of both physical and threatened physical harm have an impact on the levels of wellbeing experienced by individuals and communities.

      More than one in 10 (16%) people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm or threatened physical harm at least once in the 12 months prior to interview [1]. There was no significant difference between males (17%) and females (14%).

      Experiences of physical harm

      Six per cent of people aged 15 years and over had experienced physical harm at least once in the last 12 months. The proportion was the same for males and females (both 6%).

      For all experiences of physical harm in the last 12 months, a higher proportion of females (74%) than males (56%) identified an intimate partner/family member as at least one of the offenders [2].

      More than seven in 10 (72%) people were physically injured in their most recent experience of physical harm. The proportion of people who were injured was about the same for males (75%) and females (72%).

      More than four in 10 (44%) people reported their most recent experience of physical harm to the police. The proportion of females who reported it (59%) was more than double the proportion for males (28%).

      Experiences of threatened physical harm

      More than one in 10 (13%) people aged 15 years and over had experienced threatened physical harm at least once in the last 12 months. There was no significant difference between males (13%) and females (11%).

      A higher proportion of people had experienced at least one threat face-to-face (9%) than non-face-to-face (6%). Face-to-face threats were more common than non-face-to-face for both males (9% compared with 6%) and females (8% compared with 5%).

      Of those who had experienced at least one face-to-face threat:

      • a higher proportion of females (96%) than males (84%) had experienced at least one of those threats from someone they knew [3]
      • almost two in ten (18%) people had experienced at least one of those threats from a stranger.
         

      Around six in 10 (61%) people who had received at least one non-face-to-face threat had received at least one of those threats via text message, phone, email or writing.

      Footnotes

      1. See Appendix - physical and threatened physical harm data for more information on how this data was collected and its limitations.
      2. People were able to identify more than one offender for each experience of physical harm. An offender may have been an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person or a non-Indigenous person.
      3. Includes someone known by sight only.

      Smoking

      Tobacco smoking is one of the main preventable causes of death. It is associated with an increased risk of a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, kidney disease, eye disease and respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

      Current smokers

      Around four in 10 (41%) people aged 15 years and over were current smokers — 37% smoked every day and 3% smoked but not every day.

      The proportion of people who smoked every day was:

      • lower than in 2012–13 (41%)
      • about the same for males (39%) and females (36%)
      • higher for people living in remote areas (49%) than in non-remote areas (35%)
      • lowest for people aged 15–17 years (10%), compared with around four in 10 for all other age groups.
         

      People aged 15 years and over who smoked every day averaged 12 cigarettes per day.

      The proportion of people aged 18 years and over who smoked every day steadily decreased in non-remote areas over the last 14 years, from 49% in 2004–05 to 37% in 2018–19, while the proportion in remote areas did not change significantly.

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      1. The differences between 2001 and 2004–05 for non-remote, and between non-remote and remote in 2004–05, are not statistically significant.
      2. The differences between 2001, 2004–05, 2012–13 and 2018–19 for remote are not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2001 National Health Survey, 2004–05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
       

      ​​​​​​​Ex-smokers

      More than two in 10 (22%) people aged 15 years and over were ex-smokers.

      The proportion of people who were ex-smokers was:

      • about the same as in 2012–13 (21%)
      • about the same for males (21%) and females (23%)
      • higher for people living in non-remote areas (24%) than in remote areas (15%).
         

      People who had never smoked

      More than three in 10 (37%) people aged 15 years and over had never smoked.

      The proportion of people who had never smoked was:

      • about the same for males (36%) and females (39%)
      • higher for people living in non-remote areas (40%) than in remote areas (29%).
         

      There was no change in the proportion of people who had never smoked between 2012–13 and 2018–19 (both 37%). However, the proportion of young people who had never smoked increased — from 77% to 85% for those aged 15–17 years and from 43% to 50% for those aged 18–24 years.

      Download
      1. The difference between 2012–13 and 2018–19 is not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey

      Substance use

      The use of substances for non-medical purposes can lead to health problems including heart disease, liver problems, blood-borne viruses (like hepatitis and HIV), and mental health problems, as well as accidents or injuries leading to hospitalisation or death [1].

      More than one-quarter (28%) of people aged 15 years and over had used substances for non-medical purposes in the previous year [2], up from 22% in 2012–13 [3].

      The proportion of people who had used substances was:

      • higher for males (37%) than females (21%)
      • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (29%) and remote areas (27%)
      • higher for younger people aged 15–29 years (33%) and 30–44 years (31%) compared with those aged 45 years and over (21%).
         
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      1. As a proportion of total persons who accepted the substance use questions.
      2. The difference between people aged 15–29 years and 30–44 years is not statistically significant.
         

      Marijuana was the most commonly reported substance used by people aged 15 years and over. In the previous year:

      • around one-quarter (24%) of people had used it
      • more males (31%) than females (18%) had used it
      • the proportion of people living in non-remote (24%) and remote areas (25%) who had used it was about the same.
         
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      1. As a proportion of total persons who accepted the substance use questions.
      2. Sum of components may exceed total as the same person may have reported having used more than one substance.
      3. The differences between analgesics/sedatives, amphetamines, and ecstasy/designer drugs are not statistically significant.
         

      The most common age group(s) for people who had used each substance varied.

      • For marijuana, it was 15–29 years (29%) and 30–44 years (25%).
      • For amphetamines, it was 30–44 years (7%).
      • For analgesics/sedatives, there was no significant difference by age group.
         

      Footnotes

      1. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Illicit Drugs — General, https://aodknowledgecentre.ecu.edu.au/learn/specific-drugs/illicit-drugs-general/, last accessed 19/11/2019.
      2. Around 12% of people chose not to answer the substance use questions and have been excluded from the results in this section.
      3. Sourced from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia (cat. no. 4727.0.55.001).

      Self-assessed health status

      Self-assessed health status is a useful measure of a person's current health status and also provides a broad picture of a population's overall health.

      The proportion of people aged 15 years and over who rated their own health as excellent or very good improved, up from 39% in 2012–13 to 45% in 2018–19.

      More than three in 10 (32%) people rated their own health as good, down from 36% in 2012–13.

      Download
      1.  The difference between 2012-13 and 2018-19 for fair/poor is not statistically significant.

      Source(s): 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey
       

      There was no significant difference between the proportion of males and females who rated their own health as:

      • excellent or very good (47% compared with 42%)
      • good (31% compared with 32%), or
      • fair or poor (22% compared with 26%).
         

      There was no difference in the proportion of people living in non-remote and remote areas who rated their own health as excellent or very good (both 45%). However, the proportion of people who rated their health as fair or poor was higher for people living in non-remote areas (25%) than remote areas (20%).

      Use of health services

      Regular monitoring of health may help prevent illness or injury. Consultations with health professionals can assist in many ways, including the treatment and management of short-term illnesses and injuries and long-term health conditions, monitoring lifestyle risk factors, and general maintenance of good health.

        Consultations with general practitioners or specialists

        A majority of people (86%) had seen a general practitioner (GP) or specialist in the last 12 months.

        The proportion of people who had seen a GP or specialist was higher for:

        • people living in non-remote areas (87%) than remote areas (79%)
        • people with one or more selected chronic conditions (93%) [1] than for people with none (79%)
        • people with a disability or restrictive long-term health condition (94%) than for people with no disability (83%)
        • people aged 15 years and over with a non-school qualification (90%) than for those with no non-school qualification (82%).
           

        There was no significant difference between children and adults — 84% for those aged 0–17 years and 87% for those aged 18 years and over.

        More than one in 10 (13%) people said they had needed to see a GP in the last 12 months but had not gone to one on at least one occasion.

        • The proportion of people who did not see a GP when needed was higher for those living in non-remote areas (14%) than remote areas (8%).
        • The most common reasons for not going were too busy (33%) and decided to not seek care (28%).
           

        Almost seven in 10 (68%) people living in remote areas usually saw a GP who was part of an Aboriginal Medical Service or community clinic, compared with almost three in 10 (29%) in non-remote areas.

        Consultations with dentists or dental professionals

        More than four in 10 (44%) people aged two years and over had seen a dentist or dental professional in the last 12 months.

        The proportion of people who had seen a dentist or dental professional was:

        • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (44%) and remote areas (41%)
        • higher for children (57%) than adults (36%)
        • higher for people aged 15 years and over with a non-school qualification (41%) than for those with none (34%).
           

        Hospital admissions

        More than one in 10 (17%) people had been admitted to hospital in the last 12 months.

        The proportion of people who had been admitted to hospital was:

        • higher for people living in remote areas (21%) than in non-remote areas (16%)
        • more than twice as high for people with one or more selected chronic conditions (24%) [1] compared with people with none (11%)
        • more than twice as high for people with a disability or restrictive long-term health condition (27%) compared with people with no disability (13%).
           

        Footnote

        1. Includes arthritis, asthma, back problems (dorsopathies), cancer (malignant neoplasms), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, heart, stroke and vascular disease, kidney disease, mental and behavioural conditions, and osteoporosis.

        Key findings for states and territories

        ​​​​​​​Chronic conditions

        More than four in 10 (46%) people reported one or more selected chronic conditions [1]. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people with one or more selected chronic conditions was:

        • highest for people living in Tasmania (59%) and the Australian Capital Territory (57%)
        • lowest for people living in the Northern Territory (32%).
           
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        1. Includes arthritis, asthma, back problems (dorsopathies), cancer (malignant neoplasms), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, heart, stroke and vascular disease, kidney disease, mental and behavioural conditions, and osteoporosis.
        2. The differences between New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are not statistically significant.
        3. The difference between Queensland and Western Australia is not statistically significant.
        4. The difference between Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory is not statistically significant.
           

        ​​​​​​​Asthma

        More than one in 10 (16%) people reported having asthma. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people with asthma was lower for people living in the Northern Territory (6%) than any other state or the Australian Capital Territory [2].

        Mental health

        More than two in 10 (24%) people aged two years and over reported having a mental or behavioural condition [3]. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people with a mental or behavioural condition was:

        • highest for people living in the Australian Capital Territory (40%)
        • lowest for people living in the Northern Territory (10%).
           
        Download
        1. The difference between New South Wales and South Australia is not statistically significant.
        2. The difference between Victoria and Tasmania is not statistically significant.
        3. The difference between Queensland and Western Australia is not statistically significant.
           

        Ear disease and hearing problems

        More than one in 10 people (14%) reported having ear disease or hearing problems. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people with ear disease or hearing problems was higher for people living in the Australian Capital Territory (21%) than any other state or the Northern Territory [4].

        Alcohol consumption

        A person’s alcohol consumption risk level was assessed using the National Health and Medical Research Council’s 2009 guideline for single occasion risk [5]. More than half (54%) of people aged 18 years and over had exceeded the single occasion risk guideline (more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the last 12 months). Among the states and territories, the proportion of people who had exceeded this guideline was lower for people living in the Northern Territory (42%) than any other state or the Australian Capital Territory [2].

        Around one-quarter (26%) of people aged 18 years and over had not consumed alcohol in the last 12 months or had never consumed alcohol. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people who had not consumed or never consumed alcohol was higher for people living in the Northern Territory (44%) than any other state or the Australian Capital Territory [2].

        Physical activity (non-remote areas only)

        Physical activity is assessed based on an interpretation of Department of Health guidelines [6]. To meet the 2014 guidelines, people needed to do varying combinations of some or all of the following physical activities, depending on their age:

        • walking for transport
        • walking for fitness, recreation or sport
        • moderate intensity exercise
        • vigorous intensity exercise
        • strength or toning activities.
           

        Around one in 10 (11%) people aged 15 years and over met the physical activity guidelines for their age. Among the states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory had the highest proportion of people who met the guidelines (21%) than any other state or the Northern Territory [4].

        More than two in 10 (22%) people aged 15 years and over had done no physical activity at all in the last week. Among the states and territories, the Australian Capital Territory had the lowest proportion of people who had done no physical activity (10%) than any other state or the Northern Territory [4].

        Consultations with general practitioners or specialists

        A majority of people (86%) had seen a general practitioner (GP) or specialist in the last 12 months. Among the states and territories, the proportion of people who had seen a GP or specialist was higher for the Australian Capital Territory (94%) than any other state and territory, except Victoria and Tasmania [4].

        Footnotes

        1. Includes arthritis, asthma, back problems (dorsopathies), cancer (malignant neoplasms), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, heart, stroke and vascular disease, kidney disease, mental and behavioural conditions, and osteoporosis.
        2. Some differences between the states, and between the states and the Australian Capital Territory, are not statistically significant.
        3. See Appendix - mental health and wellbeing data (appendix) for more information.
        4. Some differences between the states, and between the states and the Northern Territory, are not statistically significant.
        5. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how single occasion risk was assessed using these guidelines.
        6. See Appendix - assessing health risk factors for more information about how physical activity was assessed using these guidelines.

        Data downloads

        Data item list

        Selected health characteristics, by time series, state/territory, sex, Indigenous status

        This document was added 26/05/2020.

        A correction has been applied to 'Has a disability' and 'Does not have a disability' for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people in data cubes 2 to 5. People with an impairment but no core activity limitation or schooling/employment restriction have been moved from 'Does not have a disability' to 'Has a disability'. This group is also now shown as a separate subgroup in the revised tables.

        Detailed long-term health conditions and psychological distress

        Health risk factors — waist circumference, smoking, alcohol consumption, substance use

        Health risk factors — diet, body mass, blood pressure, physical activity

        Experiences of harm

        Use of health services and health-related actions

        Government reporting

        Hearing test

        Survey material

        Household questionnaire

        Prompt cards — non-remote areas

        Prompt cards — remote areas

        To view the Measurement card click here.

        History of changes

        Show all

        26/05/2020 - A correction has been applied to total persons with and without a disability. People with an impairment but no core activity limitation or schooling/employment restriction have been moved from total persons without a disability to total persons with a disability. This correction has been applied to the commentary in the 'Disability' section and data cubes 2 to 5. The wording of the definition of 'disability' has also been improved in the Glossary and Explanatory notes, and definitions for 'limitation', 'restriction (schooling or employment)' and 'impairment' have been added to the Glossary.
         

        26/03/2020 - Information covering the hearing test results has been added:

        • expanded commentary in 'Ear disease and hearing problems' section
        • three data cubes added
        • Hearing data appendix added
        • definition of 'hearing loss (measured)' and 'hearing loss (reported)' added to Glossary
        • hearing test data items added to Data Item List.