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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) 19/12/2012  Final
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Contents >> Executive Summary


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
These key findings are from articles released as the comprehensive series The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (Updated 19/12/2012)
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population comprises around 2.5% of the Australian population and is relatively young.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and culture is being maintained.
  • Socioeconomic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to improve, but remain below those for non-Indigenous Australians.

Torres Strait Islander people (Updated 17/02/2011)
  • Torres Strait Islander people comprise 0.3% of the total Australian population and 10% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
  • Many health and welfare outcomes for Torres Strait Islander people were similar to those for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Education (Updated 22/05/2012)
  • Educational attainment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continues to improve.
  • Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with better health outcomes.

Social and Emotional Wellbeing (Updated 29/10/2010)
  • Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported being happy.
  • Around one third of adults reported high/very high levels of psychological distress.
  • Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced discrimination.
  • Around one in twelve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have personally experienced removal from their natural family.

Adult health (Updated 28/05/2010)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have poorer self-assessed health and were more likely to report higher levels of psychological distress than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Latest results show a decline in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander smoking rates, while alcohol consumption remains steady.

Mothers' and children's health (Updated 28/05/2010)
  • There are a number of positive findings in relation to maternal health and factors affecting childhood development, including high rates of breastfeeding and physical activity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Disability (Updated 17/02/2011)
  • Half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had a disability or long-term health condition.
  • Disability was associated with poorer health and welfare outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Housing circumstances (Updated 29/10/2010)
  • Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults lived in rented housing, however, the proportion living in homes being purchased has increased.
  • Fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in housing with major structural problems, but overcrowding rates remain similar.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in housing with structural problems were more likely to report high/very high levels of psychological distress.
Access to health and community services (Updated 29/10/2010)
  • The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households could locally access a range of medical and hospital services when needed.
  • Nationally, just over one-quarter of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported problems accessing one or more health services.
  • Community services and facilities that were less likely to be locally available when needed included emergency services, police stations and school bus services.
  • Parents/carers of around one in seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children needed (more) formal child care.

ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES — DEMOGRAPHIC, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population comprises around 2.5% of the Australian population and is relatively young:
  • At June 30 2006, the estimated resident Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 517,000 people, or 2.5% of the total Australian population.
  • In 2006, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population had a median age of 21.0 years compared with 37.0 years for the non-Indigenous population.
  • In 2011, the total fertility rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females was estimated to be 2.74 babies per woman, compared with 1.88 babies per woman for all women in Australia.
  • At June 2006, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in non-remote areas with an estimated 32% of people living in major cities, 43% in regional areas, and 25% in remote areas.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians:
  • At the national level for 2005–2007, the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous life expectancy was 11.5 years for males and 9.7 years for females.
  • Life expectancy at birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males is estimated to be 67.2 years, compared with 78.7 years for non-Indigenous males.
  • Life expectancy at birth for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females is estimated to be 72.9 years, compared with 82.6 years for non-Indigenous females.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language and culture is being maintained:
  • In 2008, 19% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) and 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (aged 3–14 years) spoke an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language.
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are identifying with a clan, tribal or language group, 62% in 2008 up from 54% in 2002.
  • 70% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children (aged 3–14 years) and 63% of adults (15 years or over) were involved in cultural events, ceremonies or organisations in 2008.

Socioeconomic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to improve, but remain below those for non-Indigenous Australians:
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people completed Year 12 — 22% of people aged 15 years and over in 2008, up from 18% in 2002.
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people completed non-school qualifications — 40% of people aged 25–64 years in 2008, up from 32% in 2002.
  • The unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians fell from 23% in 2002 to 17% in 2008, but remained more than three times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous Australians (5% in 2008).

The Torres Strait Islander population comprises 0.3% of the total Australian population and 10% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population:
  • At June 30 2006, the estimated resident Torres Strait Islander population was 53,300 people, or 0.3% of the total Australian population.
  • Torres Strait Islander people comprised 10% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population nationally, and 23% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland.
  • Nationally, more Torres Strait Islander adults spoke an Australian Indigenous language than all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults (31% compared with 19%).
  • Torres Strait Islander people were more likely than all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be participating in the labour force (73% compared with 65%) and to be employed (64% compared with 54%) in 2008.
  • Many other health and welfare outcomes for Torres Strait Islander people were similar to those for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

EDUCATION

Educational attainment among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continues to improve:
  • Apparent school retention rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander full-time students from Year 7/8 to Year 12 increased from 36% in 2001 to 49% in 2011.
  • Nationally, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over completing Year 12 increased from 18% in 2002 to 22% in 2008. The rate of Year 12 completion has also improved in all states and territories.
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are completing non-school qualifications, 40% of 25–64 year olds in 2008, up from 32% in 2002.
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people were fully engaged in work and/or study in 2008. Just over half (54%) of young people aged 15–24 years were either working full-time, studying full-time, or both working and studying; up from 47% in 2002.

Higher levels of educational attainment are associated with better health outcomes:
  • In 2008, 59% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–34 years who had completed Year 12 reported excellent/very good self-assessed health compared with 49% of those who had left school early (Year 9 or below). For those aged 35 years and over, the rates were 43% and 25% respectively.
  • The likelihood of smoking also decreased with higher levels of schooling, 34% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–34 years who had completed Year 12 were current daily smokers compared with 68% of those who had left school early. For those aged 35 years and over, the rates were 36% and 48% respectively.

SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL WELLBEING

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported being happy:
  • In 2008, 72% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) reported being a happy person all or most of the time, with rates higher among adults living in remote areas (78%) than non-remote areas (71%).

Around one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults reported high/very high levels of psychological distress:
  • 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported high/very high levels of psychological distress. Rates were particularly high among those with a disability or long-term health condition, those who had been victims of violence, or who had experienced discrimination.

Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experienced discrimination:
  • More than one-quarter (27%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had experienced discrimination in the last 12 months.
  • One in ten (11%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years reported being bullied at school because of their Indigenous origin.

Around one in twelve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have personally experienced removal from their natural family:
  • In 2008, 8% (26,900 people) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had been personally removed from their natural family, consistent with the rate reported in 2002 (also 8%).
  • Of those who had experienced removal from their natural family, 35% assessed their health as fair or poor and 39% experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared with 21% and 30% of those not removed.

ADULT HEALTH

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have poorer self-assessed health and were more likely to report higher levels of psychological distress than non-Indigenous Australians:
  • In 2008, 44% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported excellent/very good health and 22% reported fair/poor health.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to report fair/poor health. This gap has remained unchanged since 2002.
  • While nearly one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18 years and over had experienced high/very high levels of psychological distress, this was more than twice the rate for non-Indigenous people.

Both tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are major health risk factors. Latest results show a decline in Indigenous smoking rates, while alcohol consumption remains steady:
  • Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander current daily smokers fell from 49% to 45%, representing the first significant decline in smoking rates since 1994. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people remained twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to be current daily smokers.
  • Around one in six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (17%) drank alcohol at chronic risky/high risk levels, similar to the rate reported in 2002 (15%).

MOTHERS' AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH

There are a number of positive findings in relation to maternal health and factors affecting childhood development including high rates of breastfeeding and physical activity among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children:
  • In 2008, the majority of birth-mothers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–3 years (87%) had regular check-ups while pregnant (at least one every two months).
  • According to the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, three-quarters (76%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–3 years had been breastfed.
  • 74% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4–14 years were physically active for at least 60 minutes everyday, though the proportion was higher for those who lived in remote areas (84%).
  • The proportion of children aged 0–14 years who lived in a household where members usually smoked inside the house decreased from 29% in 2004–05, to 21% in 2008.
  • Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years brushed their teeth at least once a day (71%). However, 25% of children aged 10–14 years had a tooth or teeth filled because of dental decay and 20% of children aged 5–9 years had experienced dental decay.
  • Eye or sight problems and ear or hearing problems were experienced by 7% and 9% of children aged 0–14 years respectively in 2008.

DISABILITY

Half of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had a disability or long-term health condition:
  • Nationally, 50% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over had a disability or long-term health condition in 2008. Around one in twelve (8%) had a profound/severe core activity limitation.
  • In non-remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were one and a half times as likely as non-Indigenous adults to have a disability or long-term health condition, and more than twice as likely to have a profound/severe core activity limitation.

Disability was associated with poorer health and welfare outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability were more than four times as likely as those without a disability to rate their health as fair/poor.
  • Half (50%) of all people with a disability or long-term health condition were receiving a government pension or allowance as their principal source of income in 2008.
  • 36% of people with a disability had problems accessing services, such as doctors, hospitals or employment services, compared with 24% of those without a disability.

HOUSING CIRCUMSTANCES

Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) lived in rented housing, however the proportion living in homes being purchased is increasing:
  • In 2008, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults lived in housing that was rented (69%).
  • More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were living in housing that was being purchased in 2008 (20%) than in 2002 (17%).

Fewer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in housing with major structural problems, but overcrowding rates remain similar:
  • While 26% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households were living in dwellings with major structural problems in 2008, this has reduced significantly since 2002 (34%).
  • In remote areas, the rate declined from 50% to 34% (of households) between 2002 and 2008.
  • One-quarter (25%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults lived in overcrowded housing in 2008 — this has not changed since 2002.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in dwellings with major structural problems were more likely to report high or very high levels of psychological distress compared with those who did not (37% compared with 28%).
ACCESS TO HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES

The majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households could locally access a range of medical and hospital services when needed:
  • 62% of households could access Aboriginal health care services in 2008
  • 74% of households could access hospitals (63% in remote areas)
  • 82% of households could access health/medical clinics (69% in remote areas).

Nationally, just over one-quarter (26%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported problems accessing health services such as long waiting times and cost:
  • Dentists, doctors and hospitals were the health services where people were most likely to experience problems (by 20%, 10% and 7% of people respectively).

Beyond health services, there were similar levels of availability of community facilities and services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households nationally. Services and facilities that were less likely to be locally available when needed included:
  • emergency services — not available for 20% of households
  • police stations — not available for 17% of households
  • school bus service — not available for 17% of households nationally and 39% of households in remote areas.

Parents/carers of around one in seven (14%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–12 years needed (more) formal child care:
  • In remote areas, unavailability of child care was the most common reason for not using more formal care (40% of children needing more care). In non-remote areas, it was cost (31%).



This section contains the following subsection :
      Demographic, social and economic characteristics overview:

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