4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2005  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/08/2005   
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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 are explained in the Glossary. Additional sources referenced within the publication are listed in the list of references.


2 The BEACH survey collects information about consultations with general practitioners (GPs), including GP and patient characteristics, patient reasons for the visit, problems managed and treatments provided. The survey has been conducted annually since April 1998. Information is collected from a random sample of approximately 1,000 GPs from across Australia each year. Each GP provides details of 100 consecutive consultations.

3 Although the questionnaire contains an Indigenous identifier, it is unknown whether all GPs ask their patients this question. In sub-study Supplementary Analysis of Nominated Data of approximately 9,000 patients, it was found that if the question on Indigenous status was asked within the context of a series of questions about origin and cultural background, 2.2% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This is twice the rate routinely recorded in BEACH, indicating that BEACH may underestimate the number of Indigenous consultations. More information on the BEACH survey is available on the BEACH project web site <http://www.fmrc.org.au/beach.htm>.


4 The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and is conducted every five years. Results from the 2001 Census are presented in this publication.

5 The Census is a count of the whole population at a given point in time, 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.


6 The 2001 CHINS collected data about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing organisations and discrete Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities in Australia.

7 The survey was conducted throughout Australia between March and June 2001, and was the second in a series of surveys conducted by the ABS on behalf of, and with full funding from, the then Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC). The 2006 CHINS will be funded by the Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services.

8 The 2001 CHINS was administered in conjunction with field preparations for the 2001 Census. Although called a survey, the 2001 CHINS was designed as an enumeration of all 1,216 discrete Indigenous communities in Australia that were occupied at the time of the CHINS or were intended to be reoccupied within 12 months, and of all 616 Indigenous Housing Organisations managing housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

9 More information on the survey is available in ABS 2002a.


10 The 2002 GSS collected information regarding health, housing, education, work, income, financial stress, assets and liabilities, transport, family and community, and crime.

11 The 2002 GSS was conducted throughout Australia from March to July 2002 by the ABS. It collected information from 15,500 people aged 18 years and over resident in private dwellings in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, except for very remote areas of Australia.

12 In this publication, non-Indigenous data from the GSS is used to provide comparisons with the Indigenous population for 2002. In most cases, these comparisons are based on age-standardised estimates in order to account for the differences in age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Because age-standardised estimates do not represent any real population parameters, they should not be used to quantify the difference between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. They should be used as an indication of difference only.

13 For more information on the GSS, see ABS 2003b. A full list of the data items from the 2002 GSS is contained in the 2002 General Social Survey: Data Reference Package (cat. no. 4159.0.55.001) available free of charge on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>


14 The NATSIHS collected information relating to Indigenous health including health status, health actions taken, and lifestyle factors which may influence health.

15 The survey was conducted between August 2004 and July 2005 and information will be released in early 2006. Building on the 2001 National Health survey, the NATSIHS is a separate six-yearly survey that will be timed to coincide with every second (three-yearly) NHS.

16 While in 2001 information was collected from about 3,700 Indigenous persons, the sample size for the 2004-05 NATSIHS was approximately 11,000 persons. As in 2001, information was collected from both remote and non-remote areas throughout Australia.

17 The survey covers content similar to the NHS including: health service use; health risk factors; long-term conditions; and basic demographic information. In addition, the NATSIHS collected other information considered to be of high relevance to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, including: social and emotional well-being; discrimination; unmet need (in relation to service access); oral health; and men's health activities. The survey has been field tested in urban, rural and remote areas of Australia with the cooperation of hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, their community councils and community-controlled health services.


18 The 2002 NATSISS collected information on a wide range of subjects including family and culture, health, education, employment, income, financial stress, housing, transport and mobility, as well as law and justice.

19 The 2002 NATSISS was conducted from August 2002 to April 2003 and is the second national social survey of Indigenous Australians conducted by the ABS, building on the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). It is planned that the survey will be repeated at six-yearly intervals.

20 The survey collected information from 9,400 Indigenous Australians across all states and territories of Australia, including people living in remote areas. The sample covered persons aged 15 years or over who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia. Usual residents of ‘special’ dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and prisons were not included in the survey.

21 The survey was designed to provide reliable estimates at the national level and for each state and territory. The sample was therefore spread across the states and territories in order to produce estimates that have a relative standard error (RSE) of no greater than 20% for characteristics that are relatively common in the Indigenous population, say that at least 10% of the population would possess. In addition, the Torres Strait Islander population was over-sampled in order to produce data for the Torres Strait Area and the remainder of Queensland.

22 For more information on the NATSISS, see ABS 2004f. In addition, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey: Data Reference Package, 2002 (cat. no. 4714.0.55.002) is available free of charge on the ABS web site <www.abs.gov.au>. This package contains a complete listing of the data items collected in the survey, definitional material and sample copies of the questionnaires used in remote and non-remote areas.


23 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.

24 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.

25 The 1994 NATSIS questionnaire covered the areas of family and culture, health, housing, education and training, employment and income, and law and justice.

26 The survey was based on personal interviews with a sample of 15,700 Indigenous people within the 35 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) regions and the Torres Strait Area.

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


28 The NDSHS was managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and collected information from households on individual’s drug use patterns, attitudes and behaviours.

29 The 2001 NDSHS represented the seventh in the National Drug Strategy series since the program’s inception in 1985, and surveyed 27,000 persons aged 14 years or over. Of these, 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.

30 More information on the survey is available in AIHW 2002a.


31 The NHS collected information relating to health and included topics such as long-term illnesses experienced, mental wellbeing, injuries, consultations with doctors and other health professionals, and health risk factors including alcohol consumption, smoking, exercise, body mass and dietary practices.

32 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.

33 The 2001 NHS sample covered usual residents of private dwellings only. Usual residents of ‘special’ dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and prisons were not included in the survey.

34 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 3,200 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 3,700 Indigenous Australians comprising 1,853 adults and 1,828 children.

35 For more information of the 2001 NHS, see ABS 2002b and 2002c. 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>.


36 The 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 2005b.


37 The National Mortality Database (NMD) is a national collection of de-identified information for all deaths in Australia. This Database, maintained by the AIHW, includes deaths registered in Australia from 1964 to the present. Information on the characteristics and causes of death of the deceased is provided by the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and coded nationally by the ABS. Information on the cause of death is supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death, or by a coroner. The data is updated each calendar year, towards the end of the year, with the previous calendar year's data.


38 The WAACHS collected information on child and youth development, health and wellbeing, functional impairment and disability, use and access to health, education and social services, and diet and nutrition. The survey was conducted by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in conjunction with the Kulunga Research Network.

39 The survey was administered between May 2000 and June 2002. It collected information from 5,300 Western Australian and Torres Strait Islander children aged between 0 and 17 years who lived in metropolitan, rural and remote regions of Western Australia.

40 For more information on the WAACHS, see Zubrick et al. 2004 and 2005, or the Institute's website <www.ichr.uwa.edu.au>.