4704.0 - The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/04/2008   
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1 Information in this publication is drawn from many sources, including the Census of Population and Housing, a number of surveys conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and other organisations, and from a variety of administrative data sources. A brief description of the main sources used in this report is provided in the following paragraphs. Terms and concepts used in this publication are explained in the Glossary. Additional sources referenced within the publication are included in the list of references.


2 The BEACH survey collects information about consultations with general practitioners (GPs), including GP and patient characteristics, patient reasons for the visit, problems managed and treatments provided. The survey has been conducted annually since April 1998. Information is collected from a random sample of approximately 1,000 GPs from across Australia each year. Each GP provides details of 100 consecutive consultations. Over the period 2001-02 to 2005-06, 1.5% of GP consultations were with patients who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

3 Although the questionnaire contains an Indigenous identifier, it is unknown whether all GPs ask their patients this question. In sub-study Supplementary Analysis of Nominated Data of approximately 9,000 patients, it was found that if the question on Indigenous status was asked within the context of a series of questions about origin and cultural background, 2.2% identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This is twice the rate routinely recorded in BEACH, indicating that BEACH may underestimate the number of Indigenous consultations. More information on the BEACH survey is available on the BEACH project web site http://www.fmrc.org.au/beach.htm>.


4 The Census of Population and Housing is the largest statistical collection undertaken by the ABS and is conducted every five years. Selected results from the 2006 and 2001 Censuses are presented in this report.

5 The Census is a count of the whole population at a given point in time. As such, it forms the basis of the estimated resident population (ERP); the official measure of the Australian population and each state/territory population. These population estimates are used to determine the number of seats in the House of Representatives for each state and territory, and for the allocation of government funding. In addition, Census information about the characteristics of the population as a whole, and of various sub-populations (e.g. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples) is used to support the planning, administration and policy development activities of governments, businesses and other users.


6 The 2006 CHINS collected data about the status of housing, infrastructure, education, health and other services available in discrete Indigenous communities throughout Australia. In addition, the survey collected selected information on Indigenous Housing Organisations (IHOs) that provide rental housing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

7 The survey was conducted throughout Australia between March and June 2006, and was the third to be conducted by the ABS. The 2006 CHINS was conducted by the ABS on behalf of, and with full funding from, the then Australian Government Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaCSIA).

8 The 2006 CHINS was administered in conjunction with field preparations for the 2006 Census. Although called a survey, the 2006 CHINS was designed as an enumeration of all 1,187 discrete Indigenous communities in Australia that were occupied at the time of the CHINS or were intended to be reoccupied within 12 months, and of all 496 IHOs managing housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. More information on the survey is available in ABS 2007d.


9 The NATSIHS collected information about the health circumstances of Indigenous Australians, including general health status, health actions taken, and selected lifestyle factors which may influence health outcomes.

10 The survey was conducted from August 2004 to July 2005 by the ABS. Building on the Indigenous components in the 1995 and 2001 National Health Surveys, the NATSIHS is the first Indigenous-specific health survey. It will be conducted six-yearly to coincide with every second (three-yearly) National Health Survey (NHS).

11 The 2004-05 NATSIHS collected information from 10,400 Indigenous Australians of all ages in remote and non-remote areas.

12 In this report, data for non-Indigenous people from the NHS are used to provide comparisons with data for Indigenous people from the 2004-05 NATSIHS. Except where data are compared for small age groups, comparisons are based on age standardised estimates in order to account for the differences in age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. For more information on age standardisation, see the Glossary. More information on the 2004-05 NATSIHS is available in ABS 2006c.


13 The 2002 NATSISS collected information on a wide range of subjects including family and culture, health, education, employment, income, financial stress, housing, transport and mobility, as well as law and justice.

14 The 2002 NATSISS was conducted from August 2002 to April 2003 and is the second national social survey of Indigenous Australians conducted by the ABS, building on the 1994 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey (NATSIS). The 2008 NATSISS will be enumerated from August to December 2008.

15 The survey collected information from 9,400 Indigenous Australians across all states and territories of Australia, including people living in remote areas. The sample covered persons aged 15 years or over who were usual residents of private dwellings in Australia. Usual residents of ‘special’ dwellings such as hotels, motels, hostels, hospitals and prisons were not included in the survey.

16 In this report, data for non-Indigenous people from the General Social Survey (GSS) are used to provide comparisons with data for Indigenous people from the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (NATSISS). In most cases, these comparisons are based on age-standardised estimates in order to account for the differences in age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. For more information on age standardisation, see the Glossary. More information on the 2002 NATSISS is available in ABS 2004d.


17 The National Mortality Data Collection comprises de-identified hospital separation records (discharges, transfers, deaths or changes in type of episode of care) and is maintained by the AIHW. Information on the characteristics, diagnoses and care of admitted patients in public and private hospitals is provided to the AIHW by state and territory health departments. Further information about this collection is provided in AIHW 2007b.


18 The National Mortality Data Collection comprises de-identified information for all deaths in Australia. This data collection includes deaths registered in Australia from 1964 to the present and is maintained by the AIHW. Information on the characteristics and causes of death of the deceased is provided by the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages and coded nationally by the ABS. Information on the cause of death is supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death, or by a coroner. The data are updated each calendar year, towards the end of the year, with the previous calendar year's data.


19 The National Perinatal Data Collection is a national collection that includes data on all births that have occurred in Australia in hospitals, birth centres and the community. It comprises data items as specified in the Perinatal National Minimum Data Set plus additional items collected by the states and territories. The Perinatal National Minimum Data Set is a specification for data collected on all live births, and all stillbirths of at least 20 weeks gestation and/or at least 400 grams birth weight. The Perinatal NMDS was established in 1997. State and territory health authorities provide data to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Perinatal Statistics Unit for national collation on an annual basis. The Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status of the mother is collected, but not that of the father or baby.


20 The SAAP National Data Collection is a nationally consistent information system that combines information from SAAP agencies and state/territory and Commonwealth funding departments. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare fulfils the role of the National Data Collection Agency and manages the collection. All non-government organisations funded under the program are required to participate in the SAAP National Data Collection. The SAAP National Data Collection was established in July 1996 to provide information necessary to assist in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of the SAAP program.


21 The WAACHS was a large scale investigation into the health of 5,289 Western Australian and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-17 years. It was undertaken in 2001-02 by the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in conjunction with the Kulunga Research Network. The survey was the first to gather comprehensive health, educational and developmental information on a population based sample of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, their families and communities.

22 For more information on the WAACHS, see Zubrick et al 2005; Zubrick et al 2006; Silburn et al 2006, or the Institute's web site <www.ichr.uwa.edu.au>.