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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 >> Disability >> Disability and other health characteristics


DISABILITY: DISABILITY AND OTHER HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS
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
  • 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.
  • Rates of psychological distress were more than twice as high for those with a disability than for those without a disability (43% compared with 19%).

This topic presents results from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), which provides the most recent data on disability and health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Both disability and health status are strongly related to age, meaning that older people are much more likely than younger people to be in poor health and to have a disability or long-term health condition. Therefore, to reduce the effect of age, the following analysis focuses on two broad age groups: young adults aged 15–34 years and older adults aged 35 years and over.

Disability was strongly associated with self-assessed health status in 2008. For both younger and older adults, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who had a disability were more than four times as likely as those who did not have a disability to rate their health as fair/poor (table 3.1). They were also less likely to rate their health as excellent or very good. Around three-quarters (73%) of older people with a profound/severe core activity limitation were in fair/poor health in 2008.

Likewise, there was a strong relationship between disability status and psychological distress. Around four in ten (43%) of all people with a disability or long-term health condition reported high/very high levels of psychological distress. In both age groups, rates of distress were more than twice as high for those with a disability than for those without a disability (table 3.1).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability were more likely than those without a disability to report that they or their close family/friends had experienced at least one life stressor in the last 12 months (83% compared with 72%). The most common types of stressors reported by people with a disability were death of a family member or close friend (42%), serious illness or disability (40%) and inability to get a job (24%). While these were also the top three stressors reported by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as a whole, those with a disability experienced them at higher rates.

3.1 DISABILITY STATUS(a) BY SELECTED HEALTH CHARACTERISTICS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2008

15–34 years
35 years and over
Has profound/
severe
limitation(b)
Total with
a disability
Has no
disability
Has profound/
severe
limitation(b)
Total with
a disability
Has no
disability

%
%
%
%
%
%
Self-assessed health status
Excellent/Very Good
26.7
38.9
64.4
7.6
19.2
52.0
Good
38.3
37.8
30.7
19.6
(c)33.5
(c)37.0
Fair/Poor
35.0
23.3
5.0
72.8
47.3
11.0
High/very high psychological distress
49.9
45.1
20.5
55.9
40.8
15.9
Experienced at least one stressor
88.0
83.6
71.7
86.7
82.3
71.4
All persons
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0

(a) As determined by the common (remote + non-remote) criteria.
(b) People always or sometimes needing assistance with at least one core activity of everyday living.
(c) Difference between total with disability and has no disability is not statistically significant.
Source: 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey. These estimates are also available for download in the Disability datacube.




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