4727.0.55.002 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/04/2014  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All  
Contents >> Health Risk Factors >> Food security



Food security, according to the World Health Organisation definition, requires constant access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.

This topic collects information on the number of households that have experienced financial barriers in regards to purchasing food. Specifically, this topic focusses on:

  • running out of food and being unable to purchase more due to cost
  • having difficulty ensuring a constant food intake is sustained.


Information was collected from the household spokesperson in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS).


The household spokesperson was asked if in the last 12 months there was any time when they, or members of their household, had run out of food and couldn't afford to buy more. Respondents who answered yes were asked if they, or members of their household, had gone without food.

Information about food security was collected as part of the household spokesperson form in both the NATSIHS and NATSINPAS. Data is therefore available in the larger, combined NATSIHS and NATSINPAS sample, known as the Core sample. For comparison of food security with NATSIHS only items or for household estimates, the NATSIHS file should be used and similarly, for comparison with NATSINPAS only items, the NATSINPAS file should be used. However, for the most accurate population estimate information on food security alone or comparison with other items collected in the Core, the Core file should be used. For more information on the structure of the AATSIHS, see the Structure of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey page of this Users' Guide.

Data items

The data items and related output categories for this topic are available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.


Points to be considered in interpreting data for this topic include the following:
  • Due to the sensitive nature of these questions, some under-reporting may have occurred.
  • As these questions are asked of the household spokesperson, responses may be influenced by their own personal situation. Similarly, responses may reflect the situation of any one person in the household. It is therefore possible that some responses may not reflect the situation of the household as a whole, particularly in multiple family or group households.
  • The questions do not collect information on frequency of occurrence. It is therefore not possible to report on the level of food insecurity.
  • The questions do not collect information on access to nutritional food and therefore, according to the above definition, does not provide a true measure of food security.

Comparability with 2004-05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS)

In the 2004-05 NATSIHS, food security questions were asked of the selected adult and therefore data is only available for the adult population. In addition the questions referred to ‘you’ in the questions rather than collecting about any person in the household. The data are therefore not considered directly comparable with 2012-13 NATSIHS.

Comparability with 2008 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS)

In 2008 NATSISS, similar questions were asked of the households spokesperson regarding whether the household ran out of money and went without as a result of running out of money. However, in addition to food the question wording included clothing and paying bills. Data is therefore not considered comparable.

Comparability with 2011-12 Australian Health Survey (AHS)

Data is considered directly comparable between the 2011-12 NNPAS and 2012-13 AATSIHS. Data on food security was not collected in the 2011-12 AHS.

Previous PageNext Page