1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
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Special Social Surveys Section
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra
Telephone (02) 6252 6301


The 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) is the largest health survey of Indigenous Australians conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This survey, which was conducted in remote and non-remote areas throughout Australia, was designed to collect a range of information from Indigenous Australians about health related issues; including health status, health actions taken, lifestyle factors which may influence health, and socioeconomic circumstances.

The survey aims were to:

  • provide broad information about the health of Indigenous Australians, by remoteness, and at the national and state/territory levels;
  • allow for the relationships between the health status, risk factors and health-related actions of Indigenous Australians to be explored;
  • provide comparisons of the health of Indigenous Australians over time; and
  • provide comparisons with results for the non-Indigenous population from the 2004-05 National Health Survey (NHS).


The 2004-05 NATSIHS sample covered usual residents of private dwellings only. Private dwellings are houses, flats, home units and any other structures used as private places of residence at the time of the survey. Usual residents are those people who usually live in a particular dwelling and regard it as their own or main home. Usual residents of 'special' dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels and hospitals were not included in the survey. Visitors to private dwellings were also excluded from the survey as well as persons whose usual place of residence was outside Australia.

Non-Indigenous people were not eligible for selection in the NATSIHS, although if they were a parent or guardian of an Indigenous child they may have been involved as a spokesperson for the child.

Reference Period

This survey was conducted from August 2004 until July 2005.

Frequency of Collection

Every six years.

Methods of Collection

There were two methods of data collection for the 2004-05 NATSIHS - Computer Assisted Interviewing (CAI) and Pen and Paper Interviewing (PAPI). The former was used in non-remote areas and the latter, in remote areas. CAI involves the use of a notebook computer to record, store, manipulate and transmit the data collected during interviews. In addition to the main survey instrument, two small paper questionnaires were used to collect information on substance use (for respondents aged 15 years or over) and specific supplementary women's health topics (for female respondents aged 18 years or over). These additional questionnaires were voluntary and self-enumerated. In remote Indigenous communities, wherever possible, Indigenous facilitators assisted in the conduct and completion of the interviews.

The paper questionnaire excluded topics that were not relevant in the remote context, and also questions that were unlikely to yield data of acceptable quality. In addition, some questions were reworded to assist respondents in understanding the concepts. The two supplementary paper questionnaires on substance use and specific women's health topics were not used in remote areas. Additional information was collected in remote communities using a Community Information Form (CIF). The CIF was used to collect, from the Community Council and Health Clinic, a limited amount of community level information about the Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) program, access to medical services, and community health issues.


Release Schedule

The publication is usually released in the year following the end of survey enumeration. For example, results from the 2004-05 NATSIHS were released in 2006.


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.0)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File, Technical Manual - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.0.55.002)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.0.55.004)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Australia - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.0.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: New South Wales - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.1.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Victoria - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.2.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Queensland - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.3.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: South Australia - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.4.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Western Australia - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.5.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Tasmania - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.6.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Northern Territory - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.7.55.005)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Australian Capital Territory - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4715.8.55.005)
National Health Survey and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2004/5: Data Reference Package - 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4363.0.55.002)

There are also a number of thematic snapshots, based on data from the 2004-05 NATSIHS:

The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: A snapshot, 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4722.0.55.001)
Older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A snapshot, 2004-05 (ABS cat. no. 4722.0.55.002)
Overweight and Obesity - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A snapshot, 2004-05(ABS cat. no. 4722.0.55.006)
Tobacco Smoking - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: A snapshot, 2004-05(ABS cat. no. 4722.0.55.004)


The Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) is used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. For the purposes of the NATSIHS, the ASGC divided Australia into five Remoteness categories: Major Cities of Australia; Inner Regional Australia; Outer Regional Australia; Remote Australia; and Very Remote Australia. These categories are based on the Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia (ARIA) which measures the remoteness of a point based on the physical road distance to the nearest Urban Centre.

The 2004-05 NATSIHS publication presents a number of tables dissected by remote and non-remote categories, which are based on the remoteness categories in the ASGC. Remote is comprised of Remote Australia and Very Remote Australia, while non-remote is comprised of Major Cities of Australia, Inner Regional Australia and Outer Regional Australia.

Because of the different collection methodologies used in non-remote and remote areas, not all data items are available for the total Indigenous population. The content for the NATSIHS in remote areas is a subset (approximately 80%) of the content collected in other areas. The remote content excluded those items that were irrelevant, and those for which acceptable data quality levels could not be achieved.

Data Service

For users who wish to undertake more detailed analysis of the survey data, microdata from the 2004-05 NATSIHS is available in the form of an expanded confidentialised unit record file (CURF); which is only available via the ABS Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL), a secure Internet-based data query service. It is accompanied by an Information Paper describing the content of the NATSIHS CURF (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2004-05, Expanded Confidentialised Unit Record File, Information Paper (ABS cat. no. 4715.0.55.002)).


Marital status
Indigenous status
Family composition
Main language spoken at home

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

Health Topics
Self-assessed health status
Long term medical conditions (e.g. arthritis, asthma, injuries, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular conditions, kidney disease, osteoporosis, hearing and sight problems)
Short term injuries
Admissions to hospitals
Visits to casualty/outpatient facilities
Visits to hospital day clinics (non-remote only)
Doctor consultations
Dental consultations
Consultations with other health professionals
Days away from work/school due to illness or caring
Other days of reduced activity due to illness
Social and emotional wellbeing
Alcohol consumption
Body mass
Dietary behaviours
Adult immunisation
Child immunisation (non-remote only)
Child breastfeeding status
Women's health issues (e.g. mammograms, pap smear tests, breastfeeding history and use of contraceptives)
Substance use (non-remote only)

Historical Data

Information about Indigenous Health has previously been collected within components of the 1995 and 2001 National Health Surveys (NHSs) and the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). Some data are presented at the state and territory level, and for remote and non-remote areas at a national level. For more detail on issues of comparability between these surveys, see the Explanatory Notes of the 2004-05 NATSIHS (ABS cat. no. 4715.0).