2021 Census data: over 8 million Australians have a long-term health condition
2021 is the first time Census has collected information on diagnosed long-term health conditions. Over two million people reported having at least one of the following conditions - mental health (2,231,543), arthritis (2,150,396) or asthma (2,068,020), with these being the most reported long-term health conditions.
Almost 4.8 million (4,791,516) people reported having one of the ten long-term health conditions listed on the Census form, while nearly 1.5 million (1,490,344) had two of these health conditions and over 750,000 (772,142) had three or more of these long-term health conditions. A further one million (1,009,836) indicated that they had at least one other long-term health condition that was not listed on the form.
The proportion of those with a long-term health condition increased with age. More than three out of every five (62.9 per cent) people aged 65+ reported having at least one long-term health condition compared with one out of every five (22.1 per cent) 15–34 year olds.
Females were more likely to report a long-term health condition than males, with 34 per cent (33.9 per cent) of females having one or more long-term health conditions compared with 30 per cent (29.5 per cent) of males. Males most commonly reported asthma and mental health conditions, while the most commonly reported long term health conditions reported by females were arthritis and mental health conditions.
Asthma is the most commonly reported health condition for 0–14 year olds, with a notable difference between male children with 7.4 per cent reporting asthma compared to 5.3 per cent of female children.
Census data on long-term health conditions can be split by other characteristics such as geography, cultural background or family type. For example, the 2021 Census shows over half of people born in Greece (56.1 per cent) and Italy (53.7 per cent) reported one or more long-term health conditions.
Dr David Gruen AO, Australian Statistician, said “For the first time, we have data on long-term health conditions across the whole population. This is critical data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is provided for all Australians.
Census data will help provide a more detailed picture of Australians’ health. Census data complements existing ABS health surveys by providing additional insights about the communities that require services to support complex health needs”.
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Further information on 2021 Census is available in the Census media backgrounders.
Note: The 2021 Census introduced a new question on long-term health conditions. This data provides insights at a detailed geographic and sub-population group level e.g., country of birth by suburb. In addition, the ABS undertakes in-depth interviewer-based surveys to determine the national prevalence rate of key health conditions. These include the National Health Survey, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) and the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW). These surveys are the definitive and correct source for national prevalence rates.
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