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The poor health status of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has been widely documented. The 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) survey provides data for a number of health indicators, such as self-assessed health status, smoking, alcohol consumption and disability status. Selected data for Queensland are presented here.
* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Usual daily consumption of alcohol greater than 50 mls per day for males and 25 mls per day for females.
Source: National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, Queensland, 2002, cat. no. 4714.3.55.001
In 2002, 43% of all Indigenous people aged 15 years or over reported their health as excellent or very good. One-third (33%) rated their health as good and 24% gave a rating of fair or poor. Self-reported health status declined with age. While 58% of Indigenous people aged 15-24 years reported excellent/very good health, this proportion was 24% for people aged 45 years or over.
SELF-ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS, Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over, Queensland, 2002
Those with higher incomes had better self-reported health status, with 55% of people in the three highest income quintiles reporting excellent/very good health compared with 36% of those in the lowest quintile. Overall, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years or over who reported their health as excellent or very good was similar in 1994. In contrast, those reporting their health status as fair or poor had risen from 17% in 1994 to 24% in 2002. (See tables 6 and 9 in the data cube 4714.3.55.001 - charges apply).
Among Indigenous people aged 15 years or over in 2002, just over one-third reported a physical disability or long-term health condition (35%). Those in remote areas were more likely to report a disability or long-term condition (42% compared to 33% of those in non-remote areas).
Compared to those without a disability, people with a reported disability or long-term health condition were more likely to report their health as fair or poor (48% compared to 11%), less likely to have continued their schooling beyond Year 9 (59% compared to 76%) and less likely to be participating in the labour force (50% compared to 68%). (See table 10 in the data cube 4714.3.55.001 - charges apply).
One half of the Indigenous population aged 15 years or over in 2002 reported smoking cigarettes either regularly or occasionally. The rate was similar for men and women, remote and non-remote areas, and for both Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people. The highest rates of smoking were reported for those aged 25-44 years, of whom 55% smoked daily.
Unemployed people reported a rate of daily smoking (64%) higher than employed people (44%) and those with higher incomes reported lower rates (37% of those in the three highest income quintiles compared to 58% of those in the lowest quintile). The proportion of smokers was similar in 1994 (at just over 50% of all Indigenous people). (See tables 6, 8 and 9 in the data cube 4714.3.55.001 - charges apply).
In 2002, 78% of Indigenous people reported low risk or zero consumption of alcohol in the previous 12 months and 15% reported risky or high risk alcohol consumption in the last 12 months (i.e. usual daily consumption of alcohol greater than 50 mls per day for males and 25 mls per day for females).
The level of risky or high risk alcohol consumption in the last 12 months was higher for Indigenous people in remote areas (24%) compared to those in non-remote areas (13%). People with a non-school qualification reported a lower rate of risky or high risk alcohol consumption (10%) than did people whose highest educational attainment was Year 9 or below (21%). (See table 7 in the data cube 4714.3.55.001 - charges apply).
Other reports have detailed a number of health concerns among the Indigenous population of Australia, although separate data for Queensland are usually not available. These problems include high rates of diabetes, heart disease and respiratory conditions. For remote communities, isolation and limited access to health services may exacerbate these problems. For more information, see National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4715.0).
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