4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2003  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/08/2003   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product


1 Information in this publication is drawn from many sources, including the Census of Population and Housing, a number of surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other organisations, and from a variety of administrative data sources. A brief description of the most relevant surveys conducted by the ABS and some of the other data sources is provided in the following paragraphs. Terms and concepts used in this publication, including the definitions of households containing Indigenous person(s) and other households, are explained in the Glossary. Additional sources referenced within the publication are listed in the reference list.

2 The Tenth Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, and its use in hospital separations data and in deaths registrations is described below.


3 The main objective of the Census of Population and Housing is to measure the number of people in Australia and their key characteristics, at a given point in time. The Census is a count of the whole population, and provides a reliable basis for making future estimates of the population of each state, territory and local government area. These population estimates are used for the distribution of government funds, and to determine the number of seats per state and territory in the Commonwealth Parliament. In addition, the knowledge of the characteristics of the population gained through the Census is used to support the planning, administration and policy development activities of governments, businesses and other users.

4 The Census is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and is conducted every five years. Results from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing are presented in this publication, although previous Census are provided in some instances for comparative purposes.

5 In the 2001 Census many of the Torres Strait Islander population in north Queensland appear to have reported ‘creole’ as their main language. This response was coded as ‘Oceanian Pidgin and Creoles n.f.d.’, however, probably should have been classified as Torres Strait Creole (Broken). In this case a further 4,854 speakers could be added to the number of Creole speakers for a total of 7,790 speakers.


6 The 2001 Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey (CHINS) was the second in a series of surveys conducted by the ABS on behalf of, and with full funding from, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). In common with the first CHINS conducted in 1999, the 2001 survey sought to collect data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing organisations and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia.

7 While the 1999 and 2001 CHINS are comparable at a broad level, there are issues to be taken into consideration when using these data. See Chapter 2 for further details of the CHINS, or contact the ABS National Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Statistics in Darwin, which manages the data on behalf of the ATSIC.

8 In 1992, ATSIC commissioned the Housing and Community Infrastructure Needs Survey (HCINS) which collected housing and infrastructure information from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. However, the data collection methods employed by the HCINS varied between jurisdictions, affecting attempts to aggregate the data at a national level.

9 There are also differences between the methodologies and definitions used in the 1992 HCINS and the CHINS, which prevent comparisons between the results of the two surveys being made.


10 Information will be released later this year from the ABS Indigenous Social Survey (ISS), conducted from August to December 2002. The survey was developed after wide consultation with Indigenous people and organisations on direction for the survey, and detailed development guided by a reference group including Indigenous people and organisations. The ABS surveyed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in both urban and remote areas across Australia to collect information about a number of areas of social concern. The ISS will provide information on the social and general wellbeing of Indigenous peoples that has not been available since the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). Data will be available at the national and state–territory level, as well as for separately aggregated communities and for Torres Strait Islanders

11 The ISS collected information from a range of areas of social concern such as health, disability, living standards and social participation, making it possible to better understand the links between various aspects of the lives of Indigenous peoples. The data items in the survey cover about 50% of the content of the 1994 NATSIS, and new items of priority such as disability status, life stressors, substance use, financial stress, and access to transport.


12 The NATSIS was the first national survey of Australia’s Indigenous people and was part of the government response to a recommendation by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. It was primarily designed to provide information at the national level on the social, demographic, economic and health status of Indigenous people and was conducted by the ABS in 1994.

13 Prior to, and during the development stages of the survey, there was widespread consultation with Indigenous people and organisations to ensure that the information collected was relevant to Indigenous people and was collected in a culturally appropriate manner.

14 The survey was based on personal interviews with a sample of Indigenous people selected according to a methodologically sound random sampling design. Indigenous people were recruited and trained to interview the 15,700 Indigenous people selected in the sample.

15 The questionnaire covered the areas of family and culture, health, housing, education and training, employment and income, and law and justice.

16 More information on the survey is available in ABS 1995.


17 The 2001 NDSHS represented the seventh in the National Drug Strategy series since the program’s inception in 1985. It was managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, and gathered information from households on individual’s drug use patterns, attitudes and behaviours.

18 Of the 27,000 persons aged 14 years and over participating in the 2001 survey, 415 persons identified as either Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, or both. The relatively small Indigenous sample limits the confidence with which analysis can take place.

19 More information on the survey is available in AIHW 2002h.


20 The 2001 NHS was conducted by the ABS from February to November 2001. This was the fifth in the series of health surveys conducted by the ABS; previous surveys were conducted in 1977–78, 1983, 1989–90 and 1995. The survey series was designed to obtain national benchmarks on a wide range of health issues, and to enable changes in health to be monitored over time.

21 Data from the 1995 NHS are presented in this publication for comparative purposes. While the 2001 NHS is similar to the 1995 survey in many ways, there are important differences in sample design and coverage, survey methodology and content, definitions, classifications, etc. which affect the degree to which data are directly comparable between the surveys. For more information on the 1995 NHS, see ABS 1999.

22 In the 2001 NHS, households were selected at random, using a stratified multi-stage area sample, which ensured that persons within each state and territory had a known and, in the main, equal chance of selection in the survey. For the first time, 2001 NHS results are presented for Indigenous Australians living in remote areas. The NHS sample covered usual residents of private dwellings only. Usual residents of ‘special’ dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels and hospitals were not included in the survey.

23 Approximately 26,900 people from all states and territories and across all age groups were included in the 2001 survey, including 483 Indigenous persons. To enhance the reliability of estimates for the Indigenous population a supplementary sample of 3,198 Indigenous respondents was obtained for the survey. This was conducted throughout Australia from June to November 2001. The Indigenous results included in this publication are based on the total sample (known as the NHS(I)) of 3,681 Indigenous Australians comprising 1,853 adults and 1,828 children.

24 As outlined in Chapter 2, the Indigenous population is considerably younger than the non-Indigenous population. Because of the close relationship between health and age, comparisons between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in using information in the NHS are presented by age group or by using age standardised rates.

25 Sampling error is the difference between the published estimates, derived from a sample of persons, and the value that would have been produced if all persons in scope of the survey had been included. Due to the relatively small size of the Indigenous samples in the 1995 and 2001 NHS, the Indigenous results have larger sampling errors than results for the non-Indigenous population. For this reason, differences in results between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, between Indigenous results for 1995 and 2001, and between remote and non-remote Indigenous estimates may or may not be statistically significant. Non-sampling error, such as non-response, errors in reporting by respondents or recording of answers by interviewers, and errors in coding and processing data, may also occur in any data collection.

26 For more information of the 2001 NHS, see ABS 2002e. In addition, the National Health Survey: User’s Guide (cat. no. 4363.0.55.001) is available free of charge from the ABS website <http://www.abs.gov.au>. The User’s Guide has been compiled to assist clients in analysing the 2001 NHS. It contains a complete listing of the data items collected in the survey, definitional material and sample copies of the questionnaires used for the Indigenous supplement.


27 The National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) is a national collection of de-identified hospital separation records (discharges, transfers, deaths or changes in type of episode of care) maintained by the AIHW. Information on the characteristics, diagnoses and care of admitted patients in public and private hospitals is provided to the AIHW by state and territory health departments. Further detail regarding the NHMD is available from the AIHW 2002b.


28 The National Nutrition Survey was conducted by the ABS between February 1995 and March 1996. The survey was a joint project of the ABS and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services, and involved a sub-sample of respondents in the 1995 NHS. Information about food and nutrition consumption habits was collected from approximately 13,800 people aged two years and over. There were too few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants to allow for separate Indigenous estimates.

29 More information on the survey is available in ABS 1997d.


30 The tenth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) was adopted for Australian use for deaths registered from 1 January 1999, and has been used in this publication. The introduction of ICD-10 has broken the ‘underlying cause of death’ series, particularly at the more detailed level of classification.

31 For more information on the differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10, in relation to death registration data, see ABS 1997b.

32 All ‘multiple cause of death’ data in this publication are coded to ICD-10. For deaths where the underlying cause was identified as an external cause (accidental and violent deaths), multiple causes include circumstances of injury, the nature of injury as well as any other conditions reported on the death certificate. These deaths are classified according to the external cause, that is, to the circumstances of the accident or violence which produced the fatal injury, rather than to the nature of the injury.

33 The Australian modification of ICD-10 (ICD-10-AM) has been used in this publication to code hospital separation and procedure data. For more information on ICD-10-AM, in relation to hospital data, see AIHW 2002b.



*estimate has a relative standard error of between 25% and 50% and should be used with caution
**estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use
>greater than
<less than
. .not applicable
nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
%per cent


AACRAustralasian Association of Cancer Registries
ABSAustralian Bureau of Statistics
ACCHSAboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
ACCMISAged and Community Care Management Information System
ACTAustralian Capital Territory
ADCAboriginal Dental Clinic
ADLActivities of daily living
AHMACAustralian Health Minister’s Advisory Council
AHSAustralian Housing Survey
AIDSAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
AIGCAustralian Indigenous Geographical Classification
AIHWAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare
AILActivities of independent living
AMSAboriginal Medical Service
ANIHIAgreement on National Indigenous Housing Information
ANZDATAAustralia and New Zealand Dialysis and Transplant Registry
AODTSAlcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services
ARIAAccessibility/Remoteness Area Index
ARHPAboriginal Rental Housing Program
ASCOAustralian Standard Classification of Occupations
ASGCAustralian Standard Geographical Classification
ATSICAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
ATSIHWIUAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Welfare Information Unit
AWECActivities of work, education and community living
BEACHBettering the Evaluation and Care of Health
BMIbody mass index
CADNational Coordination and Development Committee
CAEPRCentre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
CAPCrisis Accommodation Program
CDCollection District
CDEPCommunity Development Employment Project scheme
CDHACCommonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care
CGCCommonwealth Grants Commission
CHINSCommunity Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey
COAGCouncil of Australian Governments
COPDChronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CPICommunity Periodontal Index
CRACommonwealth Rent Assistance
CSDACommonwealth/State Disability Agreement
CSHACommonwealth/State Housing Agreement
DAAData Analysis Australia
DESTDepartment of Education, Science and Training (Commonwealth)
DHACCommonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care
dmftdecayed, missing and filled (child) teeth
DMFTdecayed, missing and filled (adult) teeth
DSRUDental Statistics and Research Unit
dtdecayed teeth (deciduous teeth)
DTdecayed teeth (permanent teeth)
e.g.for example
ENTear, nose and throat
ERPestimated resident population
ESRDend-stage renal disease
FaCSDepartment of Family and Community Services (Commonwealth)
FIMFamily Income Management
ftfilled teeth (deciduous teeth)
FTfilled teeth (permanent teeth)
GISGeographic Information Systems
GPgeneral medical practitioner
HACCHome and Community Care
HCINSHousing and Community Infrastructure Needs Survey
HibHaemophilus Influenza Type B
HIVHuman Immunodeficiency Virus
HMACHousing Minister’s Advisory Council
HPAHome Purchase Assistance
HREOCHuman Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
ICDInternational Classification of Diseases
ICD-9International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision
ICD-10International Classification of Diseases, tenth revision
ICD-10-AMInternational Classification of Diseases, tenth revision, Australian modification
i.e.that is
IESIndigenous Enumeration Strategy
IESIPIndigenous Education Strategic Initiatives Program
IHOIndigenous Housing Organisation
IHSIndigenous Health Survey
IPDInvasive pneumococcal disease
ISDRindirect standardised death rate
ISSIndigenous Social Survey
JJjuvenile justice
MACSMultifunctional Aboriginal Children’s Services
MCATSIAMinisterial Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
MDSminimum data set
mtmissing teeth (deciduous teeth)
MTmissing teeth (permanent teeth)
n.a.not available
NACCHONational Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations
NAGATSIHIDNational Advisory Group - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Information and Data
NATSISNational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey
NCCHNational Centre for Classification in Health
NCHECRNational Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research
NCSDCNational Community Services Data Committee
NCSDDNational Community Services Data Dictionary
NCSIANational Community Services Information Agreement
NCSIGNational Community Services Information Group
NDANational Disability Administrators
NDSHSNational Drug Strategy Household Survey
n.e.c.not elsewhere classified
n.f.d.not further defined
n.f.p.not for publication
NHDAMGNational Housing Data Agreement Management Group
NHDDNational Health Data Dictionary
NHIMGNational Health Information Management Group
NHMDNational Hospital Morbidity Database
NHMRCNational Health and Medical Research Council
NHSNational Health Survey
NIHIICNational Indigenous Housing Information Implementation Committee
NIHIP IWGNational Indigenous Health Information Plan Implementation Working Group
NMDSNational Minimum Data Set
NNDSSNational Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System
NNSNational Nutrition Survey
n.p.Not available for publication but included in totals where applicable, unless otherwise stated
NPSUNational Perinatal Statistics Unit
NSWNew South Wales
NTNorthern Territory
OATSIHOffice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (part of CDHAC)
PBSPharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
PDSPublic Dental Service
PRAPrivate Rent Assistance
RARemoteness Area
RAATSICCRemote Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care Program
SASouth Australia
SAAPSupported Accommodation Assistance Program
SADSSouth Australian Dental Service
SCATSIHSteering Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
SCRCSSPSteering Committee for the Review of Commonwealth-state Service Provision
SIGNALStrategic Inter-Governmental Nutrition Alliance
SMRstandardised mortality ratio
SMSsubstance use service
STIsexually transmitted infection
THSTerritory Health Services
TSITorres Strait Islander
WAWestern Australia
WHOWorld Health Organisation


Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals. Published percentages are calculated prior to rounding of the figures and therefore some discrepancy may exist between these percentages and those that could be calculated from the rounded figures.

Back to Main Features