1384.6 - Statistics - Tasmania, 2006  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/04/2006   
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Contents >> Health >> Health status >> Indigenous people's health

Indigenous people have the lowest health status of any identifiable population group in Australia. Life expectancy for Aboriginal people is 15 to 20 years less than the general community and prevalence of disease is up to 12 times higher than the Australian average. The Aboriginal Health Unit in the Department of Health and Human Services is striving to improve the standard of health of Tasmania's Indigenous people to a level equal to that of non-Indigenous Tasmanians. This involves identifying the health and wellbeing needs and priorities of Tasmanian Indigenous communities.

(Source: Department of Health and Human Services)

The most common health issues identified among Aboriginal people in Tasmania over recent years, from a number of sources have been:

        • respiratory infection and chest disease (including pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, viral infection, asthma and smoker’s lung),

        • diarrhoea or gastroenteritis,

        • skin problems,

        • ear and/or hearing problems,

        • heart disease,

        • eye problems,

        • high blood pressure,

        • kidney disease,

        • diabetes,

        • injuries/poisoning,

        • stress related conditions including depression, suicidal behaviour, anxiety,

        • eye/ear and associated health problems,

        • communicable diseases, and

        • cancer.

(Source: Aboriginal Health Regional Plan, 2001-2003, Tasmanian Aboriginal Health Forum, 2001)
    In a 1998 survey, Indigenous Tasmanians reported that:
      • 46% did not drink or only rarely drank alcohol (compared with 40% of non-Indigenous Tasmanians),

      • 42% were smokers (compared with 25% of non-Indigenous Tasmanians),

      • 31% drank at least once a week (compared with 43% of non-Indigenous Tasmanians),

      • 12% had excellent health (compared with 13% of non-Indigenous Tasmanians),

      • 24% had fair or poor health (compared with 18% of non-Indigenous Tasmanians),

      • 24% had experienced depression,

      • 8% had seriously contemplated taking their own life.

    (Source: Healthy Communities Survey, 1998, Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services)

    It should be noted that the above results have not been adjusted for differences in the age structures of the Tasmanian Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The Tasmanian Indigenous population is a younger population than the general Tasmanian population, with 41% under the age of 15 (compared to 22% of the total population). This should be taken into account when comparing the two populations, as variables relating to health may be strongly associated with age.

    (Source: Aboriginal Health Regional Plan, 2001-2003, Tasmanian Aboriginal Health Forum, 2001)

    A separation is a total hospital stay (from admission to discharge, transfer or death) or a portion of a hospital stay beginning or ending in a change in the type of care for an admitted patient (for example, from acute to rehabilitation), and includes admitted patients who receive same day procedures (for example, renal dialysis). Aboriginal Tasmanians have a higher rate of separations from public hospitals than the general Tasmanian population, with 173.1 separations per 1000 Aboriginal Tasmanians compared to 164.5 separations per 1000 Tasmanians.

    (Source: Report on Government Services, 2005)

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