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Newsletters - Health and Disability Statistics News - No 1, March 2005


Change to newsletter name
Changes to ABS Health and Disability Section structure and personnel
2004/5 National Health Survey and 2004/5 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey Update
Release of 'National Health Survey 2001: Data Reference Package'
Release of 'Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings'
Release of Health snapshot article series
Release of 'Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia'
CATI Technical Reference Group update
ABS Demography Section newsletter
Publications released which include information on health and disability topics
General contact information
About this newsletter


With changes in the structure and personnel in the ABS' Population Statistics Group (see below), Health Statistics News will now be called Health and Disability Statistics News. The last issue of Health Statistics News was released in June 2003.


In early December 2004, the ABS' Disability, Ageing and Carers team moved from the Family and Community Statistics Section to the Health Section. As part of a larger restructure of household surveys taking place at the ABS, the two teams have joined together to form the Health and Disability Section. The Section is part of the ABS' recently created Health, Education and Crime Statistics Branch.

The former Director of the Health Section, Sally Goodspeed, has been promoted to Assistant Statistician in charge of the Health, Education and Crime Statistics Branch. Dean Martin was acting Director of the Health and Disability Section from July 2004 and Catriona Bate took over as Director of the section in early March this year.

Ken Black heads up the Disability, Ageing and Carers team within the section and Karen Brown has taken over as head of the Co-ordination and Standards team, which is involved with work relating to the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing Technical Reference Group (CATI TRG), among other projects. Josie Barac now manages the Health Analysis and Reporting team, and Chris Gordon remains head of the Mortality sub-section.


The 2004/05 National Health Survey (NHS) is currently in the field and will collect information from approximately 16,800 households (with some additional user funded sample supplementation). Topics collected include health status, risk factors, health related actions, and demography. In conjunction with this survey, a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) is also being conducted, collecting similar information from approximately 11,000 Indigenous Australians.

The NHS aims to collect information to inform policy development and debate in health and population health. Once completed, the NHS will provide information for monitoring and surveillance across a range of key health issues at both national and State/Territory levels. It will provide information on health indicators for national health priority areas and for important sub-groups of the general population. Running the NHS in conjunction with the NATSIHS will enable comparisons of health outcomes of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander population with the general population. The surveys will also provide information to explore relationships and linkages between health and population characteristics for both populations.
    Enumeration is due to be completed in July 2005 and results of the survey are expected to be released from mid 2006. Dissemination strategies and directions for future National Health Surveys were discussed at the NHS Reference Group meeting, held on 29 October 2004. The next NATSIHS reference group meeting is scheduled for April 2005, and will focus on dissemination of results.

    In December 2004, the Health and Disability Section hosted two workshops: physical activity concepts and measures, and future directions for the NHS. The workshops, which were held in Canberra, fostered a great deal of discussion and provided an opportunity for participants and stakeholders to help shape the direction of future survey activities in these areas. The workshops helped clarify and confirm the issues that will need to be addressed. The solutions that were proposed to address a number of these issues were also extremely useful, and will form the basis for further work. The Health and Disability Section is also establishing a web-based discussion forum as a way to continue the dialogue and to make relevant material available, including presentations and notes from these workshops. More information relating to the ABS Health Forum will be published in the next edition of Health & Disability Statistics News.


    The National Health Survey 2001: Data Reference Package (cat. no. 4363.0.55.002) was published electronically on 7 February 2005. This publication provides in a single place a range of useful reference material from the 2001 NHS and can be used in conjunction with the NHS 2001 User Guide to inform users of important aspects of survey methodology and metadata.

    The contents of the Data Reference package include:
    • copies of all questionnaires and survey forms used;
    • copies of all interviewer prompt cards used;
    • list of all available data items; and
    • a summary table showing available data items by general topic and relevant population.

    The Data Reference Package also provides useful links to related information such as time series comparability of NHS data, and information on the NATSIHS. The NHS 2001 Data Reference Package is available free of charge on the ABS website.


    The 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers was enumerated from 23 June to 1 November 2003. The survey sampled people in both private and non-private dwellings, including people in cared accommodation but excluding those in gaols and correctional institutions. After exclusions due to scope and coverage, the final sample comprised 36,241 people for the household component and 5,145 people for the cared-accommodation component.

    The aims of the survey were to:
    • measure the prevalence of disability in Australia and consequent need for support;
    • provide a demographic and socioeconomic profile of people with disabilities and older people compared with the general population; and
    • provide information about people who provide care to those with disabilities.

    Preliminary results were released in May 2004 (cat. no. 4166.0). The summary of findings publication (cat. no. 4430.0) was released on 15 September 2004, with the Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File (CURF) released in December 2004. A User Guide and CURF Guide were also released in December 2004, and the first set of electronic tables for 'Caring in the Community', and 'Disability and Long-Term Health Conditions' were released on the ABS website.


    The Health and Disability Section has released a series of brief articles relating to the seven identified National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs). The snapshots are intended to be a concise reference for students, researchers and professionals in health-related fields. Beginning in April 2004 with the release of Asthma in Australia, articles on each of the NHPAs (Asthma, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Musculoskeletal Conditions, Mental Health and Injury) have been published. The snapshots, which are available free on the Health Theme page on the ABS website, offer an accessible summarised account of ABS and external data relating to prevalence and risk factors as well as trends in morbidity and mortality for each of the NHPAs.


    A new edition of Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia (cat. no. 3309.0.55.001) was released on 15 December 2004.

    Drawing on data from the ABS Causes of Death collection, this electronic publication offers summary statistics about suicides registered in Australia in 2003, the latest year for which mortality data are currently available. Information for the years 1993 to 2003 is shown for comparison. Data are presented separately by sex and age group, including numbers of suicides, age-specific rates and standardised death rates. Details of method of suicide and state or territory of usual residence are also incorporated.


    The Health and Disability section is represented on the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing Technical Reference Group (CATI TRG), which is a forum for the development and promotion of national standards and methods for CATI health surveys. Together with representatives from the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), State and Territory health departments, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, and the Public Health Information Development Unit, we assist in developing standard health-related questions and procedures across all Australian jurisdictions.

    A number of health-related topics are included in the project: demography, asthma, diabetes, alcohol, tobacco, cardiovascular disease, physical activity, cancer, injury, nutrition, musculoskeletal disorders and psychosocial. For each topic a background paper is produced and questions developed, cognitive testing, and field testing undertaken, a module manual written, and data elements are submitted for inclusion in the National Health Data Dictionary.

    The ABS undertakes work on the modular development component of the project, which involves coordinating testing of question modules, compiling manuals on various health topics and preparing submissions to the Heath Data Standards Committee (HDSC). In recent months, the ABS' work has focused on the submission of the demographics data elements to the HDSC and finalising manuals for physical activity, cancer, injury, nutrition and musculoskeletal disorders following the third field test in 2004.


    The ABS Demography Section releases a newsletter containing key population statistics and information on current issues in demography. The last newsletter was released in November 2004 and the next edition is expected to be released in March. ABS Demography News can be accessed on the internet by going to the ABS website at, then following the links to News and Media, ABS Newsletters, Demography News. Alternatively a newsletter can be emailed to you on request.

    For further information or to add you name to the e-mail distribution list:
    Contact: Rachael Hill (02) 6252 7546


    APRIL 2004 - MARCH 2005

    1301.0Year Book, Australia
    3303.0Causes of Death, Australia
    3303.0.55.001Causes of Death, Australia: Summary Tables
    3309.0.55.001Suicides: Recent Trends, Australia
    3320.0Deaths from External Causes, Australia
    4102.0Australian Social Trends 2004
    4307.0.55.001Apparent Consumption of Alcohol, Australia
    4363.0.55.002National Health Survey 2001: Data Reference Package
    4390.0Private Hospitals, Australia
    4390.0.40.001Private Health Establishments: Acute and Psychiatric Hospitals Data Report on Hardcopy
    4390.0.40.002Private Health Establishments: Free Standing Day Hospital Facilities Data Report on Hardcopy
    4430.0Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, 2003
    4430.0.00.001Information Paper: Basic Confidentialised Unit Record File: 2003 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers
    4431.0.55.001Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: User Guide
    4446.0Disability, Australia (Preliminary)
    4819.0.55.001Asthma in Australia: a snapshot
    4820.0.55.001 Diabetes in Australia: a snapshot
    4821.0.55.001Cardiovascular disease in Australia: a snapshot
    4822.0.55.001Cancer in Australia: a snapshot
    4823.0.55.001Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia: a snapshot
    4824.0.55.001Mental Health in Australia: a snapshot
    4825.0.55.001Injury in Australia: a snapshot
    4826.0.55.001Occasional Paper: Health Risk Factors - a Guide to Time Series Comparability from the National Health Survey, Australia
    4827.0.55.001The Health of Older People, Australia
    4828.0.55.001Characteristics of People Reporting Good or Better Health
    4829.0.55.001Health of Children, Australia
    4905.0.55.001Mature Age Persons Statistical Profile: Health

    These and all publications are available from ABS book shops in each capital city:
    ABS Book ShopTelephone No.
    Canberra:(02) 6252 6627
    Adelaide:(08) 8237 7582
    Sydney:1300 135 070
    Hobart:(03) 6222 5811
    Darwin:(08) 8943 2110
    Melbourne:(03) 9615 7367 or (03) 9615 7998
    Brisbane:(07) 3222 6350
    Perth:(08) 9360 5360

    Alternatively all ABS publications are available through the National Mail Order Service on (02) 6252 5249 or the Subscription Service on 1300 366 323 or by email: Publications are also available on the ABS website.


    2005 International Statistical Institute Session, 5-12 April 2005

    You may also be interested in the 55th Session of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) which will be held in Sydney on 5-12 April 2005. Included below is some information about the conference and the website address if you would like more details.

    The International Statistical Institute (ISI) is composed of more than 2
    ,000 individual elected members who are internationally recognised as definitive leaders in the field of statistics. Its membership crosses all borders, representing more than 133 countries worldwide. The ISI Conference will provide an excellent opportunity for statisticians to congregate and exchange innovative ideas, develop new links and discuss current trends and developments in the statistical world.

    The Scientific Program for the Session includes Invited Paper Meetings, Contributed Paper Meetings, theme days covering environmental statistics, finance statistics and genomics, Key Note Speakers, Poster Sessions, Tutorials and Short Courses.

    The Environmental Statistics Theme day, which will be held on Wednesday 6 April, and part of Thursday 7 April, will include 3 Invited Paper Meetings, a tutorial, and related Contributed Papers.

    Information about the Session is available from the website


    For further information:
    Contact: the National Information Referral Service on 1300 135 070


    Health and Disability Statistics News is published by the ABS Health and Disability Section, Canberra and is available to interested individuals or organisations.

    If you or your organisation would like to be placed on the Health and Disability Statistics Newsletter mailing list, please contact Saul Flaxman at the address shown below and provide your email address.

    Published by:

    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Health and Disability Section
    Locked Bag 10

    Saul Flaxman (02) 6252 5782


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