Torres Strait Islander people are a culturally distinct group within the Indigenous population. They comprise 11% of the total Indigenous population in Australia and 26% of the Indigenous population in Queensland. Most people of Torres Strait Islander origin do not live in the Torres Strait Area. Those Torres Strait Islander people who do live in the Torres Strait Area often have different characteristics to those who live in other parts of Australia, whose characteristics are more like the total Australian Indigenous population.
This chapter draws on information from the 2001 Census of Population and Housing, the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) vital statistics collection (births and deaths), the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS), the 2002 General Social Survey (GSS), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), the AIHW National Mortality Database and the 2002 AIHW National Perinatal Statistics data collection.
Where possible, comparisons are made between all persons of Torres Strait Islander origin living in the Torres Strait Area and those living in other parts of Australia. Comparisons are also made with people of Aboriginal origin only and with the non-Indigenous population. People who were identified as being of Torres Strait Islander origin or both Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal origin have been included in the Torres Strait Islander population.
At present the national health and welfare data on Torres Strait Islander people are incomplete. The ABS, through its national surveys, continues to work towards providing reliable estimates of the health, welfare and social characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples using extended Indigenous sampling design. The 2002 NATSISS provides results for Torres Strait Islander people, while the 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) has sufficient sample size to be able to report separately for Torres Strait Islander people. Improvements in Indigenous identification within administrative health data sets are also being pursued and collection improvements implemented on an ongoing basis.
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