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1318.3 - Qld Stats, Dec 2009  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 21/12/2009   
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NATIONAL ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER SOCIAL SURVEY, 2008

Introduction
Language and culture
Social networks and support
Health
Education
Labour force status
Housing
Financial stress
Further information


INTRODUCTION

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS) was conducted from August 2008 to April 2009 with a sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in private dwellings across Australia. The 2008 NATSISS is a multidimensional social survey which provides broad information across key areas of social concern for Indigenous Australians, nationally, by state and territory and remoteness area.

A summary of the key findings from the survey for Queensland are presented in this article. Not all of the information collected in the survey is presented.

Population context

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprise approximately 3.4% of the total Queensland population. In 2008 there were 147,400 Indigenous Queenslanders living in private dwellings.

This article focuses on three age groups 0-3 years (16,700), 4-14 years (40,100) and 15 years and over (90,600).


LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples keep their cultural heritage alive by passing their knowledge, arts and rituals from one generation to another, speaking and teaching languages and protecting sacred and significant sites, materials and objects.

In Queensland, 10% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over spoke an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander language as their main language at home. A total of 17,300 Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over (19%) spoke an Indigenous language, while an additional 20,000 Indigenous persons (22%) spoke only some Indigenous words. In 2008, 32% of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years either spoke an Indigenous language, or spoke some words of an Indigenous language.

In 2008, 64% of Indigenous persons in Queensland aged 15 years an over identified with a clan, tribal or language group, compared to 56% in 2002. For Indigenous children aged 4-14 years the proportion in 2008 was 55%.

In 2008, 17% of Indigenous Queenslanders aged 15 years and over were presently living in their homelands or traditional country, 56% were not living on Indigenous homelands and 27% did not recognise Indigenous homelands.

The level of involvement in Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander cultural events, ceremonies or organisations provides an indication of a person's level of attachment to Indigenous culture. People may have attended or participated in a range of cultural events or activities, such as:
  • festivals or carnivals involving arts, craft, music or dance or
  • men's or women's business.

In Queensland, 65% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over and 79% of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years were involved in cultural events, ceremonies or organisations in the 12 months prior to interview.

INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT BY AGE,
Queensland, 2008
Graph: INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE AND CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT BY AGE,

SOCIAL NETWORKS AND SUPPORT

Social relationships provide interaction with other people and assist to build networks that may be drawn on for support in times of need. Two aspects of social networks and support are: social involvement; and social support and contribution.

Social involvement

In 2008, the majority (94%) of Indigenous Queenslanders aged 15 years and over had participated in some type of sporting, social or community activity in the 12 months prior to interview. This included such activities as coaching or refereeing sport, attending church or community festivals and going to the movies, a park or a museum. Indigenous children also had high levels of participation with 96% of those aged 4-14 years participating in some type of sport, social or community activity.

Indigenous elders are important members of Indigenous communities and are often knowledge keepers of their people's history, stories, culture and language. In 2008, almost one-third (31%) of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years spent at least one day a week with an Indigenous leader or elder.

Social support and contribution

A person's social network may include friends, family, neighbours or more widely dispersed contacts within a community. A support network consists of the people who they can turn to for help with small favours or routine household tasks, such as feeding pets while away, minding a child for brief periods of time or borrowing tools or equipment. These types of relationships provide an indication of the connectedness within communities.

The ability to get support in a time of crisis means that a person is able to obtain emotional, physical or financial help from someone else during a time of unexpected trouble (e.g. sudden sickness, death of a partner/spouse, loss of job, fire or flood). In 2008, 85% of Indigenous people in Queensland aged 15 years and over were able to get support in a time of crisis.

Although a majority of Indigenous people in Queensland reported being able to get support in times of crisis, the rates of reporting for not being able to get support were higher in Queensland (15%) than the national average (11%).

Being able to have a say on issues that are important may contribute to a person's sense of social and emotional well-being. In 2008 in Queensland, 25% of Indigenous people age 15 years and over felt they were able to have their say within community on important matters all or most of the time and 21% felt they could have their say some of the time. However, just over half (54%) felt they could only have their say a little of the time or not at all.

Removal

In Queensland, an estimated 6,600 persons or 7.2% of the Indigenous population aged 15 years and over reported that they had been removed from their natural family by welfare, the government or had been taken away to a mission. There were 33,900, or over a third (37%) of Queensland Indigenous people aged 15 years and over who had relatives that had been removed from their natural family. In 2002, 41% reported that they or a relative had been removed.

HEALTH

Self assessed health status provides an indicator of overall health, reflecting an individual's awareness and expectations of their own health and well-being. Factors that can affect a person's health include psychological distress, smoking and alcohol consumption, and disability status.

In 2008, 39,400 (44%) Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over assessed their health status as excellent or very good. A further 37% rated their health as good and 20% as fair or poor. Corresponding proportions for 2002 were: excellent or very good, 43%, good, 33% and fair or poor, 24%.

Low or moderate psychological distress was reported by 62,400 or 69% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over, and high or very high distress was reported by 29%.

Results for the whole population of Queensland in the 2007-08 National Health Survey show some differences: 51% of Queenslanders reported their health as excellent or very good, 32% reported their health as good and 16% as poor. Psychological distress levels were different too with 88% reporting low or moderate distress and 12% high or very high distress.

SELF ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS, Queensland, 2008
Graph: SELF ASSESSED HEALTH STATUS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS, Queensland, 2008

Lifestyle risk factor - smoking

In 2008, a total of 39,900 Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over (44%) reported themselves as current smokers, 20% were ex-smokers and 36% had never smoked. In the 2002 survey, 49% reported that they were current daily smokers. When compared with estimates for the whole population of Queensland, the proportion of current Indigenous smokers is very high. In 2007-08, 24% of Queenslanders were current smokers, 33% were ex-smokers and 43% had never smoked.

SMOKER STATUS, Queensland, 2008

Graph: SMOKER STATUS, Queensland, 2008


Lifestyle risk factor - alcohol consumption

Alcohol consumption risk level over the last 12 months was reported as low risk by 46% of Indigenous Queenslanders aged 15 years and over, medium risk by 13% and high risk by 6.0% while 30,600 (34%) had never consumed alcohol or had not consumed any in the last 12 months. In the 2002 survey, 16% reported risky or high risk alcohol consumption in the last 12 months.

Disability status

In 2008, 42% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over had an unspecified limitation or restriction and a further 6.2% had a profound or severe core-activity limitation. No disability or long-term health condition was reported by 52% of Indigenous Queenslanders aged 15 years and over.

Child health

In 2008, more than three-quarters (77%) of Indigenous children in Queensland aged 4-14 years had their health rated as excellent or very good and a further 21% as good and only 2.0% were rated as in fair or poor health.

Being physically active improves mental and musculoskeletal health and reduces the likelihood of being overweight or obese. In 2008, just over three-quarters (78%) 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 (0.7%) did no physical activity in the week prior to interview.

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 (42%) 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). Nearly one in ten (9.1%) 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 (e.g. 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 (7.3%) Indigenous children aged 4-14 years experienced an eye or sight problem in 2008.

Smoking in the house by any member of the household was reported for 23% of children aged 4-14 years.

HEALTH STATUS AND PROBLEMS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN AGED 4-14 YEARS,
Queensland, 2008

Graph: HEALTH STATUS AND PROBLEMS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN AGED 4 TO 14 YEARS,


Infant and 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 (90%) had birth mothers who went for check-ups during pregnancy. This included birth mothers who had regular pregnancy check-ups (i.e. 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 (46%) of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years had birth mothers who took folate prior to or during pregnancy.

High blood pressure during pregnancy was reported for 8.0% of mothers of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years.

In 2008, 11% of Queensland Indigenous children aged 0-3 years were reported as having birthweight under 2,500 grams, 48% weighed from 2,500 to 3,500 grams and 36% were over 3,500 grams. Over three-quarters (79%) of Queensland Indigenous children aged 0-3 years had been breastfed and 16% of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years had a member of the household smoke in the house.

EDUCATION

Educational attainment is associated with improved employment prospects and has implications for economic independence.

In Queensland at April 2008, 24,900 Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over (28%) had Year 12 as the highest year of school completed, 44% had completed Year 10 or 11 and 29% had completed Year 9 or below.

In 2008, non-school qualifications were held by 31% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over. (These include qualifications from University, TAFE, technical or business college, industry skills centre and other formal institutions.) In the 2002 survey, 26% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over held non-school qualifications.

Schooling of children aged 4-14 Years

Informal learning from the main carer can have a great effect on a child's achievement. In Queensland in 2008, 27,400 Indigenous children aged 4-14 years (68%) had their main carer read to them, tell them a story or listen to them reading in the week prior to interview. Almost all (95%) usually attended school and Indigenous culture was taught at school to 55% of the children.


LABOUR FORCE STATUS

In Queensland at April 2008, 51,800 (57%) Indigenous persons aged 15 years and over were employed, 9% were unemployed and 34% were not in the labour force. This represents a participation rate of 66%. The corresponding for 2002 were: 46% employed, 16% unemployed, 39% not in the labour force, and a participation rate of 61%.


HOUSING

Inadequate housing has been identified as a factor affecting the health of Indigenous people, due to overcrowded dwellings and sub-standard household facilities. Three aspects of housing are highlighted in this article:
  • tenure type - focuses on a person's living arrangements, such as renting and home ownership;
  • housing utilisation - provides an indication of the need for additional bedrooms and possible overcrowding; and
  • standard of housing - focuses on structural problems with dwellings, repairs and maintenance carried out, and the availability of basic facilities.

Tenure type

In Queensland in 2008, more than two-thirds (71%) of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over lived in a rented property, 19% were owners with a mortgage and 7.3% were owners without a mortgage. Corresponding figures for 2002 were: 71% renters, 17% owners with a mortgage and 9.4% owners without a mortgage.

Housing utilisation

The 2008 NATSISS provides information on housing utilisation based on the Canadian National Occupancy Standard for Housing Appropriateness. This widely used measure is sensitive to both household size and composition. Using this measure, households that require at least one additional bedroom are considered to experience some degree of overcrowding. Overcrowding can put stress on bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities, as well as on sewerage systems.

In 2008, one-quarter (26%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over lived in a dwelling where one or more additional bedrooms was required. Children tended to live in more crowded houses. Over one-third (36%) of Indigenous children aged 0-3 years and 30% of Indigenous children aged 4-14 years lived in dwellings that required one or more additional bedrooms.

HOUSING UTILISATION OF INDIGENOUS PERSONS(a), Queensland, 2008
Graph: HOUSING UTILISATION OF INDIGENOUS PERSONS(a), Queensland, 2008

Standard of housing

In 2008, one-quarter (26%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over lived in dwellings that had major structural problems. Types of structural problems included: major cracks in walls or floors; major plumbing problems; and wood rot or termite damage. In 2002, major structural problems were reported in the homes of 36% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over.

Types of basic facilities considered important for a healthy living environment include: those that assist in washing people, clothes and bedding; safely removing waste; and enabling the safe storage and cooking of food. In Queensland in 2008, 9.0% of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over lived in households where one or more facilities were not available or did not work.

FINANCIAL STRESS

Indicators of financial stress can help to provide insight into the economic well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The 2008 NATSISS included several measures which could be used to identify Indigenous households that were constrained in their activities because of a shortage of money or access to sufficient financial resources.

In Queensland in 2008, 46% of Indigenous persons aged 15 years or over lived in a household which could not raise $2,000 within a week in an emergency. The corresponding figure in 2002 was 53%.

People were also asked whether their household had any difficulties paying for everyday necessities in the 12 months prior to interview, including food, clothing, medical bills and housing costs. In 2008, just under one-quarter (24%) of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over lived in households where members had run out of money for basic living expenses in the 12 months prior to interview.

The added expense of dependent children meant that a larger proportion of children aged 4-14 years (30%) lived in households which ran out of money for basic living expenses. In contrast only 19% of children aged 0-3 years lived in households which ran out of money for basic living expenses.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The publication National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2008 (cat. no. 4714.0), released on 30 October 2009 provides comparable data for Australia and all states and territories.


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