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Newsletters - Health Statistics News - No 47, June 2003



The Director of the Health Section, Marelle Rawson, has moved to the Social Analysis and Reporting Section of the ABS. Marelle will be responsible for the production of such publications as Australian Social Trends and Measuring Australia's Progress. Carol Kee is acting head of the Health Section until the new Director, Sally Goodspeed, takes up the position in July. Sally comes with extensive experience as the outposted ABS Officer at the Department of Health and Ageing, and is looking forward to her new role.

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The 2001 National Health Survey (NHS) confidentialised unit record file (CURF) was released on 8 April 2003. The CURF is available on CD-ROM and via the new Remote Access Data Laboratory (RADL), a system which allows approved clients access to CURF data at their desktop via a secure internet link. In addition to state/territory information, the RADL file also contains more detailed information than the CD-ROM file for a range of other variables. More information on the data content of both formats is available in the 2001 NHS CURF Information Paper, which can be downloaded from the ABS website at (refer to the 'Access to ABS CURFs' link).

For further information:
Contact: ABS CURF Management Unit (02) 6252 5731

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RELEASE OF 'AUSTRALIAN SOCIAL TRENDS, 2003', (cat. no. 4102.0)

The 2003 edition of Australian Social Trends was released on the 3rd of June. The publication presents statistical analysis and commentary on a wide range of current social issues. The 30 plus articles are organised into seven chapters, representing major areas of policy concern: population; family and community; health; education and training; work; economic resources and housing. Each chapter is supported by a set of summary tables including key social indicators which provide an overview of social change over the past decade, as well as how social conditions differ across Australian states and territories. A set of international tables also compares Australia with 18 other nations.

In the health chapter, the summary tables provide key indicators of health status, causes of death, risk factors, services and expenditure. Information is presented as a ten year time series at the national level, as well as a state breakdown for 2001 data.

The chapter also contains three analytical articles, each exploring an area of current health policy concern in greater detail:

Medical practitioners

In August 2001, there were more doctors per 100,000 population living in Major Cities, than there were in areas outside Major Cities. This article examines these differences, the long-term trends in doctor numbers, and the personal characteristics and working arrangements of the 48,200 doctors counted in the 2001 Census.

Health risk factors among adults

In 2001, 24% of the adult population were current smokers, 32% were physically inactive, 31% were overweight, and 15% were obese. This article discusses trends in these selected health risk factors over the past decade, commenting on the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of people who have these risk factors, and the health conditions with which they are associated.


In 2001, open wounds and bruises were the most common types of recent injuries experienced by Australians, accounting for 63% of people reporting recent injuries in the 2001 National Health Survey. This article presents data about the extent, type and effects of injuries experienced by Australians, and about deaths caused by injury. It also discusses some of the circumstances surrounding injury, such as where injuries occur, and what people were doing at the time of injury.

Copies of AST 2003 can be obtained either in hardcopy or electronic format for $49.00. Information on how to purchase a copy can be found at the end of this newsletter.

For further information regarding the Health articles or summary tables:
Contact: Sally Goodspeed (62527995)

For further information regarding Australian Social Trends 2003:
Contact: Marelle Rawson (02) 6252 7187

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The Indigenous Health Survey (IHS) 2004/5 is to be enumerated over the twelve months from July 2004 to June 2005. The initial results are expected to be released in March 2006. This is the first time a large scale stand alone survey on Indigenous Health will be conducted by the ABS.

In 2001, an Indigenous supplement of 3198 persons (NHS(I)) was conducted as part of the National Health Survey (NHS) and collected data in both remote and non-remote areas of Australia. This supplementary sample was combined with the 483 Indigenous Australians selected as part of the main NHS, giving a total sample of 3,681 Indigenous Australians. The initial results were released in November 2002 in the publication "National Health Survey: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (cat no. 4715.0)". The microdata from this survey is expected to be released on a Remote Access Data Lab (RADL) around September 2003.

In the 2004/5 IHS the sample size will be substantially increased to produce a more comprehensive picture of Indigenous health and to allow state level estimates. As in the 2001 NHS(I), data will be collected in both remote and non-remote areas of Australia.

Much of the survey content for the 2004/5 IHS will be in common with the 2004/5 NHS to allow comparisons between the health characteristics of Indigenous and non-Indigenous persons. There will also be over 80% content in common with the previous 2001 NHS(I) to enable analysis of changes over time in Indigenous health. The 2004/5 IHS is being developed in consultation with a reference group representing a range of Indigenous, health, research, government & community organisations. An emphasis will be placed on the health areas of greatest concern for Indigenous Australians in the survey. A meeting of the Reference Group was held in February 2003 and ongoing consultation is providing valuable input on the content for the survey.

For further information:
Contact: Justin Harvey (02) 6252 7996

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Social capital has emerged as an area of great interest for policy makers, researchers and service providers. Research suggests that social capital may contribute to a range of positive outcomes in various areas of social concern, including health. A number of studies have shown that those with higher levels of social interaction and participation are likely to enjoy better health and lower their risk of premature morbidity. After controlling for initial health status, it was demonstrated that the extent of social connectedness, the degree to which individuals form close bonds with relations, friends and acquaintances, is associated with increased life expectancy.

Positive and negative outcomes may be associated with social capital. Research suggests that isolated people or those disconnected from others are at an increased risk of dying prematurely. However, peer pressure from a person's close associates might lead to risk-taking behaviours such as smoking, drinking and use of illegal drugs.

The ABS has committed to contributing to the measurement of social capital by the development of a social capital framework, which has been refined after extensive feedback from stakeholders in a broad range of policy areas. This framework is designed to be broad, to accommodate relationships of individuals, social, economic and institutional groups. The ABS has recently been developing indicators to reflect the different elements in the framework.

A workshop was held on the 4th June 2003 at ABS Canberra office to discuss these social capital indicators. The workshop participants were drawn from a wide range of policy and program areas in government (Commonwealth and State), as well as non-government organisations and academics in the field. The aim of the workshop was to seek broad level agreement on the suitability and comprehensiveness of a set of proposed indicators to measure social capital.

The focus of the set of indicators presented at this workshop was on social interactions about which information can be collected from individuals from a survey or similar instrument. Data to support indicators can be drawn from administrative, observational, community audit or survey data. However, this list of social capital indicators was limited to a social perspective, using data compiled from the responses of individuals.
    This workshop was useful in gaining an understanding of the specific types of indicators which would best be suited to measure social capital. A paper will be released in November 2003 presenting the ABS social capital framework and a set of indicators of social capital.

    For further information:
    Contact: Elisabeth Davis (02) 6252 7880 or Julia Graczyk (02) 6252 6108
    E-mail: or

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    (20 - 21 August, Rydges Lakeside, Canberra)

    Conference sessions will examine a range of areas of health outcomes evaluation, including measurement methodologies and related issues,service improvement frameworks in National Health Priority Areas, population health based approaches, hospital quality, Indigenous health, economic modelling, data set development and many other areas of research and practice. One 'stream' of sessions will look at mental health outcomes issues, including a major report back from the implementation of consumer outcome measurement in all specialist mental health services under the Australian and New Zealand National Mental Health Strategies. There will also be a Special Seminar with Dr John Ware (author of the widely used SF-36,SF-12).

    The Conference Program can be viewed at:
    The conference website is at:

    For more information:
    Contact: Lorna Tilley (02) 6205 0869
    Australian Health Outcomes Collaboration

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    The ABS Demography Section releases a newsletter containing key population statistics and information on current issues in demography. The next newsletter is expected to be released in late June. The newsletter can be accessed on the internet by going to the ABS website at, then following the links to Themes, Demography, ABS Demography News. Alternatively, the newsletter can be emailed to you on request.

    For further information or to add your name to the e-mail distribution list:
    Contact: Rachael Hill (02) 6252 7546

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    MARCH 2003 - JUNE 2003

    3201.0Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, June 1997 to June 2002 ($27.00)
    4102.0Australian Social Trends, 2003, $49.00
    4510.0Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia, 2002, ($23.00)
    4715.0National Health Survey: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Results, Australia, 2001 (corrigendum), Free
    4813.0.55.001Occasional Paper: Vaccination Coverage in Australian Children - ABS Statistics and the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR), 2001, Free
    4814.0.55.001Measuring Dietary Habits in the 2001 National Health Survey, Australia, Free
    4816.0.55.001Occasional Paper: Long-term Health Conditions - A Guide To Time Series Comparability From The National Health Survey, Australia, Free
    4817.0.55.001Information Paper: Use of the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale in ABS Health Surveys, 2001, Free

    These and all publications are available from ABS book shops in each capital city:

    ABS Book ShopTelephone No.
    Canberra:(02) 6252 6627
    Adelaide:(08) 8237 7582
    Sydney:1300 135 070
    Hobart:(03) 6222 5811
    Darwin:(08) 8943 2110
    Melbourne:(03) 9615 7367 or (03) 9615 7998
    Brisbane:(07) 3222 6350
    Perth:(08) 9360 5360

    Alternatively all ABS publications are available through the National Mail Order Service on (02) 6252 5249 or the Subscription Service on 1300 366 323 or by email: Publications are also available on the ABS website.

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    Health Statistics News is a quarterly publication from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Health Section, Canberra, available to interested individuals or organisations.

    If you or your organisation would like to be placed on the Health Statistics Newsletter mailing list, please contact Lishani Gunawardena at the address shown below and provide your email address.

    Published by:

    Australian Bureau of Statistics
    Health Section
    PO Box 10

    Lishani Gunawardena (02) 6252 6391

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    Commonwealth of Australia 2008

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