Torres Strait Islander people are a significant cultural group representing one-tenth of the Australian Indigenous population. While they share many of the characteristics of other Indigenous Australians, some health and welfare characteristics are different from those of Aboriginal peoples.
Since 1971, Torres Strait Islander people have been recognised as a separate group from Aboriginal people according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) standard. From the 1996 Census of Population and Housing onwards, Indigenous people have also been able to indicate if they are of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin. Torres Strait Islander people are defined in this chapter as those who identified as being of Torres Strait Islander origin only, or of both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin.
The information in this chapter is drawn from the Censuses of Population and Housing for 2006, 2001 and 1996, the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS), the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), the 2006 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS), the ABS Birth Registrations Collection, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), the AIHW National Mortality Database and the AIHW National Perinatal Data Collection.
National data on Torres Strait Islander health and welfare continue to be improved through better design of the Indigenous sample in ABS collections, and through enhanced Indigenous identification within administrative health data sets.
This chapter compares Torres Strait Islander people with the overall Indigenous population, which comprises people of Torres Strait Islander origin and people of Aboriginal origin. Contrasts are also provided with the non-Indigenous people of Australia, and between Torres Strait Islander people living in the Torres Strait Indigenous Region and those living in other areas.