The Australian health system has a diversity of arrangements for planning, funding, delivering and regulating health services, featuring a mix of private and public sector involvement.
The Australian Government, through the Health and Ageing portfolio, has significant financial and policy responsibility for health services, including hospitals, public health and mental health, while the state and territory governments are largely responsible for the direct provision of such services. Local governments and non-government organisations are also involved in the direct provision of health services. Private, non-salaried practitioners provide most medical, dental and allied health care. Two major national subsidy schemes, Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, are funded by the Australian Government to cover all Australian citizens and permanent residents, and are discussed in the section Health care delivery and financing.
Statistical and information agencies provide the information needed for evidence-based decision making and policy formation. Under the National Health Information Agreement, to which the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, and the various state and territory health authorities are signatories, the National Health Information Development Plan sets out agreed national priorities for health information to be considered by the Australian Health Ministers' Advisory Council.
Health provides information on various aspects of the health of the population and the health-related activities of government and other bodies. A listing of web sites is provided at the end of this chapter where additional information on health topics and organisations involved in health-related activities can be obtained.
Health concludes with two articles. The first, Injuries, examines injury-related deaths, and the causes and circumstances of recent injuries. In 2001, almost 7,900 Australians died from injury, while 2.25 million people reported being injured over a four-week period. There is a range of risk factors associated with higher rates of illness or injury in the population. The second article Health risk factors among adults, focuses on four of these: smoking; physical inactivity; overweight and obesity; and risky/high risk alcohol consumption.