Health: Census

Latest release

Information on long-term health conditions

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First release

Key statistics

  • Over 8 million people reported having a long-term health condition.
  • 4,791,516 people had one of the selected long-term health conditions.
  • 1,490,344 people had two of the selected long-term health conditions.
  • 772,142 people had three or more of the selected long-term health conditions.
  1. Count of people who reported that they have been told by a doctor or nurse that they have one or more of the following selected long-term health conditions: arthritis, asthma, cancer (including remission), dementia (including Alzheimer's), diabetes (excluding gestational diabetes), heart disease (including heart attack or angina), kidney disease, lung condition (including Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or emphysema), mental health condition (including depression or anxiety) and stroke. This count excludes 'Any other long-term health condition(s)'.
  2. Based on place of usual residence. Excludes overseas visitors.

Source: Count of adults (15 years and over) with selected long-term health condition(s) in household (CALTHD), Count of children with selected long-term health condition(s) in household (CCLTHD)

Census data stories and concepts

Articles and information papers that related to this topic include:

How Census data is used

Learn how Census data helps community groups, businesses and governments make important decisions.

Cancer Council ACT uses Census data to tailor its SunSmart programs

Striving to achieve its vision of a cancer-free future, Cancer Council ACT uses Census data to target the right demographic groups with education and prevention initiatives.

Cancer Council ACT provides a variety of services for people in the region affected by cancer. This includes advocacy, local cancer research funding, access to its information and support phone line, and prevention programs like SunSmart.

The SunSmart program uses age, education and ancestry data from the Census to target settings where it can have the most impact on reducing future skin cancer rates in Canberra. This includes places like childcare centres, schools and workplaces.

Cancer Council ACT Chief Executive Officer Sandra Turner said skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. At least two in three people are diagnosed before the age of 75.

“While anyone can develop a skin cancer, including a deadly melanoma, and everyone needs sun protection, the risk appears to be significantly higher among certain demographic groups,” Ms Turner said.

“Census age and ancestry data offers us a better understanding of the age breakdown and ancestry of the Canberra population so we can tailor our SunSmart Program.

“2016 Census data tells us there are more than 90,000 Canberrans aged 55 plus. We know many have had years of sun exposure, making them very susceptible to UV-related skin damage and skin cancer, including melanoma.

“Early detection is so important and skin cancer is the most preventable type of cancer. 

“We need to reach a large cohort of Canberrans to share a very simple but important early cancer detection public health message.”

Similarly, Ms Turner said the SunSmart Early Childhood and School Programs are critical components in early intervention efforts to reduce future skin cancer rates in the ACT.

“According to the 2016 Census, roughly one in five Canberrans are aged under 14 years, and there were approximately 38,500 children attending a pre-school or primary school every day in the ACT.

“Preventing skin cancer starts early in life. By rolling out our early intervention and detection awareness to early childhood services and primary schools, 38,500 young Canberrans are being SunSmart at least five days a week from about the age of one to 12 years. This significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer.

“The Census gives us a snapshot every five years to help plan future programs, assess needs, and ensure we work with the right people, in the right places, at the right time,” she said.

See more Census stories.

History of health questions in the Census – Discovering the rubella link

These days it is well known that if a pregnant woman is infected with rubella, or German measles, it can cause abnormalities in the unborn child.

But, as Beth Wright relates in Informing a Nation, it took an Australian doctor's hunch and a careful analysis of Australian Census figures to firmly establish the link.

In the 1911 Census deaf-mutism was found to be very high among 10-14 year-olds. This was highlighted in the Statistician's report for the Census, but could not be adequately explained.

In the 1921 Census the same pattern existed among 20-24 year-olds, proving that the 1911 result was not a statistical anomaly. This time the Statistician's report suggested a medical reason for the figures and stated, " ... it is a reasonable assumption therefore that the abnormal number of deaf-mutes ... was the result of the extensive epidemic of infectious diseases which occurred soon after many in those age groups were born."

Several diseases were specifically named as possible candidates, but not rubella.

The Statistician's report for the Census of 1933, the last in which figures for deaf-mutism were collected, repeated these conclusions.

During World War II Australian ophthalmologist Sir Norman McAllister Gregg discovered that a significant number of congenital cataract cases occurred in children of around the same age. He overheard two mothers talking in his surgery about how they both had rubella during their pregnancies and began to investigate a possible link.

Prompted by his work, Australian statistician Oliver Lancaster revisited the Census figures of 1911, 1921 and 1933.

As stated in Informing a Nation, "Lancaster found that there was a peak in the level of deaf-mutism in the age cohort born in 1898 and 1899 and that this matched with a known outbreak of rubella in those years.

"This was the first time in the world that the link between rubella and congenital problems with unborn children was firmly established."

Source: 2006 Census: Informing a nation

Key questions in 2021 Census

  • Has the person been told by a doctor or nurse that they have any of these long-term health conditions?

The questions from the 2021 Census are output into variables. To see descriptions of the variables, including data use considerations, relevant to this topic see the 2021 Census dictionary: Health.

Data downloads

Data table for Health data summary

Post release changes

30/08/2022 - Added section "History of health questions in the Census – Discovering the rubella link"

12/10/2022 - Health data summary download file amended to include second release data tables. 

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