This section provides information on various aspects of the health of the Australian population and the health-related activities of government and other bodies. Data from the most up-to-date sources available are used including information collected in the 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) on the health status of Australians. This is the first in a new series of three-yearly national health surveys conducted by the ABS, with the increased frequency assisted by a funding partnership with the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). Data from the 2001 NHS are presented in this chapter based for the first time on the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10). Data from the supplementary health survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not available at time of printing. The chapter also includes information from the 1998 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) as well as mortality data from the ABS cause of death collection. Data from the SDAC are based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, which was endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2001.
The Australian health system has a diversity of arrangements for planning, funding, delivering and regulating health services which feature a mix of private and public sector involvement.
The Commonwealth Government, through the Health and Ageing portfolio, has primary financial responsibility for the health and ageing system, while the state and territory governments are largely responsible for the direct provision of health services, including hospitals, public health and mental health. Local governments and non-government organisations are also involved in the direct provision of health services. Private, non-salaried practitioners provide most medical, dental and allied health care. Two major national subsidy schemes, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), are funded by the Commonwealth to cover all Australians, and are discussed in detail in the section Health care delivery and financing.
In recognition of the need for a national approach to public health and health promotion, the Commonwealth Government and the state and territory governments have established a National Public Health Partnership. This is a collaborative arrangement to improve the health status of Australians, in particular those population groups most at risk. Public health services, which are largely funded by Commonwealth Government and state and territory and local governments, include activities to ensure food quality, immunisation services and communicable disease control, public health education campaigns, injury prevention, programs to reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, environmental monitoring and control, and screening programs for diseases such as breast cancer. Essential support to the health service system is given by many other agencies, including consumer and advocacy groups, professional associations for medical and paramedical practitioners as well as non-profit organisations.
Statistical and information agencies provide the information needed for evidence-based decision making and policy formation. Under the National Health Information Agreement, to which the ABS, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), DoHA, and the various state and territory health authorities, are signatories, the National Health Information Development Plan (NHIDP) sets out agreed national priorities for health information to be considered by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council (AHMAC). The role of AHMAC is described in the section Health and Community Services Ministerial Council (HCSMC). The NHIDP is managed by the National Health Information Management Group.