4715.0 - National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/11/2002   
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November 20, 2002
Embargoed: 11:30 AM (AEST)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health report

Two-thirds of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders (Indigenous) aged 15 years and over considered their health to be good, very good, or excellent according to results released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) from the Indigenous component of the 2001 National Health Survey.

However, Indigenous Australians were nearly twice as likely to report their health as 'fair or poor' compared to non-Indigenous people (34% and 18% respectively). Indigenous females were more likely overall to report 'fair or poor' health than Indigenous males (29% compared to 23%).

Findings on health risk factors from the 2001 survey include:


Indigenous adults were twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to be current smokers (51% and 24% respectively). Smoking is more common among Indigenous males and females in every age group when compared with the non-Indigenous population.


Indigenous adults were less likely (42%) than non-Indigenous adults (62%) to have consumed alcohol in the week before interview. Alcohol consumption at risky/high risk levels was estimated at 12% for Indigenous adults - similar to non-Indigenous adults. In the 18 to 24 years age group, Indigenous males were less likely (6%) than non-Indigenous males (14%) to consume alcohol at risky or high risk levels.


Based on self-reported height and weight, Indigenous peoples aged 15 years and over were more likely to be classified as overweight or obese (61%) compared with non-Indigenous people (48%).

Other findings from the survey include:

Eye/sight problems were the most commonly reported conditions among Indigenous peoples (29%), followed by asthma (16%), various back problems (15%) and ear/hearing problems (15%).

Indigenous Australians were more likely to report asthma as a long-term health condition than the non-Indigenous population (17% and 12% respectively).

Hypertension was the most commonly reported condition of the circulatory system - its prevalence increasing rapidly from the age of 35 and with onset approximately 10 years younger than for the non-Indigenous population.

5% of Indigenous peoples reported diabetes as a condition. Adjusting for age differences, Indigenous Australians were over three times more likely to report some form of diabetes. Diabetes was almost twice as prevalent among the Indigenous population in remote (16%) rather than non-remote (9%) areas. The condition increased markedly with age, rising to 29% of Indigenous Australians aged 55 years and over.

The majority of Indigenous children aged under 7 years living in non-remote areas were fully immunised against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, as were non-Indigenous children. However, for haemophilus influenza type B (HIB), the rate was 46% compared to the non-Indigenous rate of 73%.

50% of Indigenous women aged 18 years and over reported having regular pap smear tests.

The full list of findings is available in National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat. no. 4715.0).