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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/02/2011  Final
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Contents >> Access to health and community services >> Access to health services


ACCESS TO HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES: ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES
This article is part of a comprehensive series released as The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.


KEY MESSAGES
  • Nationally, just over one-quarter (26%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) reported problems accessing one or more health services.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were most likely to experience problems accessing dentists (20% reported problems), followed by doctors (10%) and hospitals (7%).
  • Nationally, the most commonly reported problems encountered were long waiting time/no appointment when needed (by 48% of people), not enough services in area (39%), and no services in area (35%).

This topic presents the latest data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) on problems experienced accessing health services by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Information was collected from people 15 years and over about health services they had problems accessing, and about the type of problems encountered. Health services that were examined included services provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers, dentists, doctors, other health workers, hospitals, mental health services, and Medicare.

Nationally, just over one-quarter (26%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) reported problems accessing one or more health services. This rate was higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults with high/very high levels of psychological distress (35%), those with fair/poor self-assessed health status (34%), and those with a disability or long-term health condition (32%) (table 3.1).


3.1 HAD PROBLEMS ACCESSING HEALTH SERVICES, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008

%
High/very high level of psychological distress(a)
35.4
Low/moderate level of psychological distress(a)
22.2
Fair/poor self-assessed health status
33.8
Excellent/very good self-assessed health status
21.5
Has disability or long-term health condition
31.9
Does not have disability or long-term health condition
20.8
All persons with problems accessing services
26.4

(a) In the four weeks prior to interview.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. These estimates are also available for download from the Access to Health and Community Services data cube.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were most likely to experience problems accessing dentists (20% reported problems), followed by doctors (10%) and hospitals (7%). People living in remote areas were more likely to encounter problems than people living in other areas (graph 3.2).

Nationally, the most commonly reported problems encountered were long waiting time/no appointment when needed (by 48% of adults), not enough services in area (39%), and no services in area (35%). In non-remote areas, the most commonly reported problem was long waiting time/no appointment when needed (55%) while in remote areas it was no services in area (51%) (graph 3.3). By health service, the commonly reported problems were: long waiting time/no appointment for both doctors (48%) and dentists (42%); transport/distance for both hospitals (55%) and Medicare (40%); and no services in area for mental health services (41%).


PROBLEMS ACCESSING HEALTH SERVICES BY REMOTENESS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008

chart: Health services where problems experienced in accessing, by remoteness, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over, 2008chart: Types of problems experienced in accessing health services, by remoteness, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 15 years and over, 2008
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey
These estimates are also available for download from the Access to Health and Community Services data cube.



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