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4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 30/10/2009   
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HEALTH


Aspects of Indigenous health highlighted in this publication are:



SELF ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS

Self assessed health status provides an indicator of overall health, reflecting an individual's awareness and expectations of their own health and well-being. Of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over, 44% rated their health as excellent or very good and a further 34% rated their health as good in 2008. However, just over one in five (22%) rated their health as only fair or poor. Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of Indigenous people who rated their health as good or better did not change significantly (77% and 78%).

In 2008, self assessed health status varied across age groups, with younger people more likely to rate their health as excellent or very good compared to people in older age groups.

4.1 SELF ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS(a), by age groups - 2008
Graph: Self assessed health status by age groups - 2008



SMOKING

A number of lifestyle or behavioural factors have been identified as impacting on health, such as smoking. In 2008, almost half (47%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over were current smokers, just over one-third (34%) had never smoked and the remaining 20% were ex-smokers. Between 2002 and 2008, the proportion of Indigenous people who were current smokers decreased from 51% to 47%. There was a corresponding increase in the proportion of ex-smokers from 15% in 2002 to 20% in 2008. In 2008, Indigenous people who lived in remote areas were more likely to be current smokers than those living in major cities (53% and 42% respectively).


COMPARISON TO NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

The following tables provide comparisons between Indigenous people from the 2008 NATSISS and non-Indigenous people from the 2007-08 National Health Survey (NHS). As differences in health status between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations may be affected by differences in the age structure of the two populations, data from the surveys have been age standardised. The underlying concepts used to collect data on self assessed health and smoker status in the 2007-08 NHS are similar to the 2008 NATSISS, but there are differences between the two surveys that should be considered when making comparisons. See Appendix 1 for more information.

Self assessed health status

After adjusting for differences in age structure, Indigenous people aged 15 years and over were almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to assess their health as fair or poor (28% compared to 15%).

4.2 INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS PERSONS, by age-standardised self assessed health status

Indigenous persons(a)
Non-Indigenous persons(b)
%
%

Excellent/very good
37.9
56.6
Good
33.9
28.8
Fair/poor
28.2
14.5
Total
100.0
100.0
Total persons aged 15 years and over ('000)
327.1
16 374.2

(a) Data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
(b) Data from the 2007-08 National Health Survey.
Note: The 2008 NATSISS population in this table varies to that shown in the summary tables. Therefore, these estimates will differ from other estimates presented.


Smoking

After adjusting for differences in age structure, Indigenous people aged 15 years and over were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to be current smokers (45% compared to 20%). More than half (52%) of non-Indigenous people aged 15 years and over had never smoked compared to 31% of Indigenous people.

4.3 INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS PERSONS, by age-standardised smoker status

Indigenous persons(a)
Non-Indigenous persons(b)
%
%

Current smoker(c)
45.1
20.1
Ex-smoker
23.7
28.2
Never smoked
31.3
51.7
Total
100.0
100.0
Total persons aged 15 years and over ('000)
327.1
16 374.2

(a) Data from the 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.
(b) Data from the 2007-08 National Health Survey.
(c) Includes daily, weekly and other current smokers.
Note: The 2008 NATSISS population in this table varies to that shown in the summary tables. Therefore, these estimates will differ from other estimates presented.



CHILD HEALTH

In 2008, more than three-quarters (77%) of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years had their health rated as excellent or very good and a further 19% were rated as good. Very few children (4%) had their health rated as fair or poor.


Physical activity

Being physically active improves mental and musculoskeletal health and reduces the likelihood of being overweight or obese. The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the amount of time children spent doing activities of moderate to vigorous intensity. Time spent being active may have been in continuous blocks or made up of shorter bursts.

In 2008, almost three-quarters (74%) of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years were physically active for at least 60 minutes every day in the week prior to interview. A further 12% were active for at least 60 minutes on four to six days in the week prior to interview. Very few children (3%) did no physical activity in the week prior to interview. Indigenous children living in remote areas of Australia were more likely to have been physically active every day than those living in major cities (84% compared with 65%).

4.4 DAYS CHILD SPENT BEING PHYSICALLY ACTIVE FOR AT LEAST 60 MINUTES(a)
Graph: Days child spent being physically active for at least 60 minutes



Oral, ear and eye health

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the teeth and/or gum problems of Indigenous children, including: holes or decay; fillings; pulled teeth; broken and/or missing teeth; or bleeding or sore gums. Approximately two in five (39%) Indigenous children aged 4-14 years had teeth or gum problems in 2008.

Ear infections have been associated with impairment of hearing, which can have implications for language development and learning difficulties. The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the ear and hearing problems of Indigenous children, including: total or partial deafness; ringing in ears (tinnitus); runny ears or glue ear (otitis media); or tropical ear or swimmer's ear (otitis externa). One in ten (10%) Indigenous children aged 4-14 years experienced an ear or hearing problem in 2008.

Eye health can be affected by a range of factors, such as genetics, premature birth, diseases (eg diabetes), injuries, UV exposure or nutrition. The 2008 NATSISS collected information on the eye and sight problems of Indigenous children, including: difficulty reading or seeing close-up (long sightedness); difficulty seeing far away (short sightedness); partial or total blindness; glaucoma; or lazy eye. Almost one in ten (9%) Indigenous children aged 4-14 years experienced an eye or sight problem in 2008.


INFANT AND MATERNAL HEALTH

The 2008 NATSISS collected information on Indigenous children aged 0-3 years and the health of their birth mother during pregnancy and childbirth. It should be noted that although the child has been identified as Indigenous, the birth mother may not be.

Information was provided by a child proxy, most often the birth mother. In some instances the proxy was not the birth mother and the information was provided on her behalf. Where a proxy did not know information about the birth mother a 'not stated' response was recorded.


Maternal health

Regular health check-ups during pregnancy are important for assessing the well-being of a mother and her baby. In 2008, the majority of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years (92%) had birth mothers who went for check-ups during pregnancy. This included birth mothers who had regular pregnancy check-ups (ie at least every two months during pregnancy) and check-ups that were less frequent. Antenatal check-ups may have been with a General Practitioner (GP), obstetrician, gynaecologist or maternity nurse.

Folate, also known as folic acid, is a B-group vitamin which assists in the healthy development of babies. It is most important during early pregnancy, therefore women of child-bearing age are advised to take extra folate daily. In 2008, almost half (49%) of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years had birth mothers who took folate prior to or during pregnancy.


Breastfeeding

In 2008, just over three-quarters (76%) of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years had been breastfed. Children who lived in remote areas were more likely to have been breastfed than those living in major cities (85% and 72% respectively). Across the states and territories, there were variations in the proportion of Indigenous children who had been breastfed. The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of breastfed children and New South Wales had the lowest (86% compared to 66%).


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