1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
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Health and Disability Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6535


The National Health Survey (NHS) was designed to obtain national benchmarks on a wide range of health issues. It also enables changes in health to be monitored over time about the health status of the population, health-related aspects of lifestyle and other health risk factors, and the use of health services and other actions people had recently taken for their health.

Survey results provide selected national statistics about long-term illnesses experienced; mental health; injuries; consultations with doctors and other health professionals; and health risk factors including alcohol consumption, smoking, exercise, body mass and dietary practices.

A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) was conducted at the same time as the 2004–05 NHS, the summary results of which are published separately (see below). While the NHS and NATSIHS are separate surveys, they in part share a common survey instrument, and were designed to produce a common core data set, to enable comparisons of Indigenous and non-Indigenous key health indicators.


The NHS was conducted in private dwellings across all states and territories of Australia, in urban and rural areas, but excluding very remote areas. Non-private dwellings, such as hotels, motels, hospitals, nursing homes and short-stay caravan parks, were excluded from the survey. The following groups were also excluded from the survey:

  • Certain diplomatic personnel of overseas governments, customarily excluded from the Census and estimated population figures;
  • Persons whose usual place of residence was outside Australia;
  • Members of non-Australian defence forces (and their dependents) stationed in Australia; and
  • Visitors to private dwellings.

Reference Period

The reference period for the 2004-05 NHS, and the 2004-05 NATSIHS, was August 2004 until July 2005. The most recent NHS was conducted from August 2007 to July 2008. The next NATSIHS is scheduled for 2010-2011.


The NHS is conducted three yearly. The NATSIHS is conducted six yearly.

Method of collection

Trained ABS interviewers conducted personal interviews with selected residents in selected dwellings. One person aged 18 years and over in each dwelling was selected and interviewed about their own health characteristics. An adult, nominated by the household, was interviewed about one child in the household. Selected children aged 15–17 years may have been personally interviewed with parental consent. An adult, nominated by the household, was also asked to provide some information about the household, such as the income of other household members. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated for the first time in 2004-05 using measured, rather than reported, weight and height of respondents.


Release schedule

The results of the 2004-05 National Health Survey were released in February 2006. Results from the 2007-08 NHS are expected to be released in 2009.


National Health Survey: Summary of Results, Australia 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4364.0)
National Health Survey 2004–05: Users' Guide - Electronic Publication (ABS cat.no 4363.0.55.001)
National Health Survey and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004/5: Data Reference Package (ABS cat. no. 4363.0.55.002)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004–05: Summary of Results, Australia (ABS cat. no. 4715.0)
Information Paper: National Health Survey - Confidentialised Unit Record Files 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4324.0)


Data are available for Australia, the states, and the ACT. Separate estimates for the Northern Territory are not available. Some data may be available for major urban, other urban, bounded locality (remote) and rural balance, statistical divisions and for health regions (defined by each state health authority).

Data Service

National Health Survey: Summary of Results; State Tables, 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4362.0) provide results in Excel spreadsheet form from this survey for Australia, the states, and the ACT.

National Health Survey - Confidential Unit Record Files, 2004-05 (ABS cat.no. 4324.0.55.001) comprises a basic CURF available on CD-ROM, and an Expanded CURF (containing more detailed information than on the Basic CURF), which is accessible through the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL) system.

Special tabulations are also available on request. Subject to confidentiality and sampling variability constraints, tabulations can be produced from the survey incorporating data items, populations and geographic areas selected to meet individual requirements.


A list of data items available from the survey is contained in National Health Survey and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004–05: Data Reference Package 2004-05 (ABS cat no 4363.0.55.002).


Indigenous status
Country of birth
Year of arrival
Main language spoken at home
Proficiency in spoken English
Relationship in household
Family composition

Highest year of school completed
Whether has a non-school qualification
Level of highest non-school qualification
Type of educational institution currently attending
Whether currently studying full-time or part-time
Main field of highest non-school qualification
Level of highest post-school educational attainment


Health-related actions (e.g. consultations)
Health risk factors (e.g. smoking)

Health status indicators
Women's health


Historical Data

The 2004-05 National Health Survey is the sixth in the series of Australia-wide health surveys conducted by the ABS; previous surveys were conducted in 1977–78, 1983, 1989–90, 1995 and 2001. Overall, results from these surveys are broadly comparable. There are some differences in survey design, methodology, classifications, etc between the surveys which may affect the interpretation of apparent changes in health characteristics over time. Further information about the comparability of data between surveys is contained in the electronic publication National Health Survey 2004–05: Users' Guide.