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4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Oct 2010  
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Contents >> Access to health and community services >> Barriers to accessing services


ACCESS TO HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES: BARRIERS TO ACCESSING 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

Access to health and other services can be hindered by a number of barriers including:
  • Language — in 2008, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over spoke a language other than English as their main language at home (46% in remote areas). Among this group, 15% experienced difficulties in both communicating in English and being understood by English speakers.
  • Trust — 80% of adults agreed or strongly agreed that their local doctors could be trusted in 2008.
  • Lack of public transport — 71% of adults living in remote areas reported having no public transport in their local area, with 15% unable to reach places when needed due to lack of transport.
  • Lack of telecommunications — 20% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in remote areas had a computer connected to the internet (53% in non-remote areas). However, the majority (98%) of households nationally had telephone access.


This article presents the latest data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) on access to health and community services. While barriers to accessing services can be experienced anywhere, people living in remote areas can be particularly affected. This topic examines a range of barriers to accessing services including:

LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on whether Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians spoke a language other than English at home and whether they had difficulty communicating with service providers.

In 2008, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over (adults) spoke a language other than English as their main language at home (46% in remote areas and 2% in non-remote areas). Among this group, 15% had difficulty in both communicating in English and being understood by English speakers. This rate was higher among older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (24% of those aged 55 years and over).


TRUST IN SERVICE PROVIDERS

Trust in the service providers can be a factor influencing the use of community and health services. The 2008 NATSISS collected data on the level of trust generally as well as the level of trust people have in local doctors, hospitals and police to do the right thing by them. Nationally, 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults agreed/strongly agreed with the statement on having trust generally (graph 4.1).

4.1 LEVEL OF TRUST, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008
chart: level of trust in health services, police and generally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 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 datacube.


Nationally, 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults agreed/strongly agreed that their local doctors could be trusted, and 62% agreed/strongly agreed that hospitals could be trusted. Around 8% disagreed/strongly disagreed that their local doctors could be trusted, and 17% disagreed/strongly disagreed that their local hospital could be trusted.

While just over half (52%) of adults agreed/strongly agreed that their local police service could be trusted, fewer agreed/strongly agreed that police outside their local area could be trusted (41%). Around 26% strongly disagreed/disagreed that local police could be trusted, and 29% strongly disagreed/disagreed that police outside their local area could be trusted.

TRANSPORT

Distance to various services can be one measure of access, but lack of transport (public and private) may mean that comparatively short distances are also an impediment to service use. Lack of transport can, therefore, impact on people living in both remote and non-remote areas.

In 2008, nearly three-quarters (71%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in remote areas had no public transport, with 15% unable to reach places when needed due to lack of transport. In non-remote areas, 18% reported having no public transport and 2% were unable to reach places when needed.

In 2008, 66% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults could access motor vehicles whenever needed and 7% only in emergencies. The majority (91%) who could access a vehicle when needed were able to access either their own vehicle or a vehicle owned by another member of their household. Over one-quarter (26%) of adults had no access to motor vehicles nationally, and nearly one-third (32%) in remote areas.


TELECOMMUNICATIONS

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the types of telephones used by people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in the month prior to interview, as well as internet connections and use.

According to the NATSISS, people living in the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households (98%) had used telephones in the month prior to interview. In non-remote areas the most commonly used types of telephones were: home landlines (used by people living in 71% of households); prepaid mobiles (67%); and other (contract) mobiles (41%) (graph 4.2). In remote areas they were: prepaid mobiles (used by people living in 61% of households); home landlines (40%); public phones (20%); and other (contract) mobiles (19%).

4.2 TYPES OF TELEPHONES USED(a), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households—2008
chart: types of telephones used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households, by remoteness, 2008
(a) By all household members in the month 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 datacube.



In 2008, 53% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households in non-remote areas and 20% of households in remote areas had a computer connected to the internet. The most common reason reported for not having an internet connection at home was the high cost of subscribing to an internet service (51% of households without a connection).

Nationally, over half (59%) of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults had accessed the internet in the 12 months prior to interview. These rates were higher among adults living in non-remote areas (67% compared with 35% in remote areas) as well as among younger age groups (71% of people aged 15–34 years compared with 46% of people aged 35 years and over). The most common place to access the internet was at home (69% of adults), followed by work (35%), neighbour's/friend's/relative's (27%), school (16%), and public libraries (11%) (graph 4.3).

4.3 PLACES WHERE INTERNET WAS ACCESSED, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over—2008
chart: places where internet was accessed by remoteness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 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 datacube.





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