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Indigenous health survey shows mixed outcomes

Released
11/12/2019

A new report shows mixed health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a reduction in smoking and improvements in how people feel about their health but an increased proportion of people with chronic conditions causing significant health problems.

The 2018-19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) examines long-term health conditions, risk factors, and social and emotional well-being indicators.

The survey included Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all states and territories and included people in both non-remote and remote areas.

Indigenous and Social Information Program Manager, Stephen Collett, said positive outcomes included a decrease in people aged 15 years and over who smoked every day, falling from 41 per cent in 2012-13 to 37 per cent in 2018-19.

“In addition, the proportion of young people who had never smoked increased between 2012-13 and 2018-19 from 77 per cent to 85 per cent for 15 to 17 year-olds and from 43 per cent to 50 per cent for those aged 18 to 24,” he said.

“The results also show a decline in the proportion of people aged 18 years and over who consumed more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the last 12 months, down from 57 per cent in 2012-13 to 54 per cent in 2018-19.”

However, 46 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had one or more chronic conditions that posed a significant health problem, up from 40 per cent in 2012-13.

“People living in non-remote areas were more likely to report having one or more chronic conditions (48 per cent) than people living in remote areas (33 per cent).

“The proportion of people with diabetes was higher in remote areas (12 per cent) than non-remote areas (7 per cent) and similarly, rates of kidney disease were higher in remote areas (3.4 per cent) than non-remote areas (1.4 per cent).”

Between 2012-13 and 2018-19 the proportion of people who were overweight or obese increased both for children aged 2-14 years (up from 30 per cent to 37 per cent) and those aged 15 years and over (up from 66 per cent to 71 per cent).

More than four in 10 people (45 per cent) rated their health as excellent or very good, up from 39 per cent in 2012-13 and more than half (57 per cent) of children aged 2-17 years had seen a dentist or dental professional in the last 12 months.

Media notes

  • Key health findings from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey can be viewed here.
  • The survey also collected data on language, cultural identification, education, labour force status, income and discrimination - for full details see Appendix - survey topics.
  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source. For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media team on 1300 175 070 (8:30am - 5:00pm Mon-Fri) or media@abs.gov.au.
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