NACCHO Aboriginal Health : New publication confirms important improvements in the health of Aboriginal people

 

 ” The Overview of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health status 2016 provides a comprehensive summary of the most recent indicators of the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Overview shows that that the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continues to improve slowly and there have been a decline in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and also a significant closing of the gap in death rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people. The infant mortality rate has declined significantly. “

Dr Michael Adams, Senior Research Fellow, Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Western Australia and Associate Professor, Ted Wilkes pictured above launching the report on Close the Gap Day 2017

The Overview is our flagship publication and has proved to be a valuable resource for a very wide range of health professionals, policy makers and others working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector. 

The Overview provides an accurate, evidence based summary of many health conditions in a form that makes it easy for time poor professionals to keep up to date with the current health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia. We have a greater focus on strengths based approaches which you will see in our introduction.”

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew

Download PowerPoint 1   overview-2016-key-facts

Download PowerPoint 2  overview-2016-key-facts-figures-tables

There have also been improvements in a number of areas contributing to health status such as the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who smoked during pregnancy has decreased.

There has been a slight decrease in the proportion of low birth weight babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers between 2004 and 2014. Age-standardised death rates for respiratory disease in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT declined by 26% over the period 1998-2012 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/health-facts/overviews

Key facts

Population

  • At 30 June 2016, the estimated Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 744,956.
  • In 2016, it was estimated that NSW had the highest number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (229,951people, 31% of the total Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population).
  • In 2016, it was estimated that the NT had the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in its population, with 30% of the NT population identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In 2016, around 35% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people lived in a capital city.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is much younger than the non-Indigenous population.

Births and pregnancy outcomes

  • In 2015, there were 18,537 births registered in Australia with one or both parents identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (6.1% of all births registered).
  • In 2015, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers were younger than non-Indigenous mothers; the median age was 25.1 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and 31 years for all mothers.
  • In 2015, total fertility rates were 2,271 births per 1,000 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and 1,807 per 1,000 for all women.
  • In 2014, the average birthweight of babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers was 3,215 grams compared with 3,355 grams for babies born to non-Indigenous mothers.
  • In 2014, the proportion of low birthweight (LBW) babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was twice that of non-Indigenous women (12% compared with 6.2%).
  • For 2004 to 2014 there was a slight decrease in the proportion of LBW babies born to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers.

Mortality

  • For 2015, the age-standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1.7 times the rate for non-Indigenous people.
  • Between 1998 and 2013, there was a 16% reduction in the death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born 2010-2012, life expectancy was estimated to be 69.1 years for males and 73.7 years for females, around 10-11 years less than the estimates for non-Indigenous males and females.
  • For 2013-2015, age-specific death rates were higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT than for non-Indigenous people across all age-groups, and were much higher in the young and middle-adult years.
  • For 2013-2015, the infant mortality rate was higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants than for non-Indigenous infants living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT; the rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants was highest in the NT.
  • For 1998 to 2014, there were significant declines in infant mortality rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants.
  • In 2013, the leading causes of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT were cardiovascular disease, neoplasms (mainly cancers) and injury.
  • For 2008-2012, for direct maternal deaths the rate ratio was 2.2 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than for non-Indigenous women.

Hospitalisation

  • In 2014-15, 4.4% of all hospital separations were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, the age-adjusted separation rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 2.4 times higher than that for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2014-15, the main cause of hospitalisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was for ‘Factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (mostly for care involving dialysis), responsible for 50% of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander separations.
  • In 2014-15, the rate of overall potentially preventable hospitalisations was around three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than those for non-Indigenous people.

Selected health conditions

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)

  • In 2012-2013, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a long-term heart or related condition; after age-adjustment, these conditions were around 1.2 times more common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2011, CVD was the third largest contributor (12%) to total disease burden among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, hospitalisation rates for circulatory disease were almost twice as high for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, ischaemic heart disease was the leading cause of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT; the age-adjusted death rate due to ischaemic heart disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was twice the rate for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 1998 to 2014 the gap in CVD mortality rates between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people narrowed.

Cancer

  • For 2006-2010, age-adjusted cancer incidence rates were slightly lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA and the NT than for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2006-2010, the most common cancers diagnosed among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA and the NT were lung and breast (females) cancers.
  • In 2011, cancer and other neoplasms (cancerous and non-cancerous tumours) were responsible for 9.4% of the total burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, age-adjusted hospitalisation rates for cancer were lower for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA and the NT than for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2009-2013, the age-adjusted death rate for cancer for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT was 1.3 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.

Diabetes

  • In 2012-2013, 13% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having diabetes; after age-adjustment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more than three times more likely to report having some form of diabetes than non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to have diabetes recorded as the principal cause of hospital admission compared to non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, SA, WA and the NT died from diabetes at five times the rate of non-Indigenous people.

Social and emotional wellbeing

  • In 2012-2013, after age-adjustment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 2.7 times as likely as non-Indigenous people to feel high or very high levels of psychological distress.
  • In 2014-2015, 68% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over experienced at least one significant stressor in the previous 12 months.
  • In 2012-2013, 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported on feelings of calmness and peacefulness, happiness, fullness of life and energy either some, most, or all of the time.
  • In 2014-2015, more than half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported an overall life satisfaction rating of at least 8 out of 10.
  • In 2014-15, there were 16,941 hospital separations with a principal diagnosis of ICD ‘Mental and behavioural disorders’ identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
  • In 2015, the death rate for ICD ‘Intentional self-harm’ (suicide) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was two times the rate reported for non-Indigenous people.

Kidney health

  • For 2010-2014, after age-adjustment, the notification rate of end-stage renal disease was 6.6 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2011, kidney and urinary diseases accounted for 2.5% of the total burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, ‘care involving dialysis’ was the most common reason for hospitalisation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • For 2010-2014, the age-adjusted death rate from kidney disease was 2.7 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT than for non-Indigenous people.

Injury, including family violence

  • In 2014-15, after age-adjustment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were hospitalised for injury at almost twice the rate for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2014-15, 19% of injury-related hospitalisations among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were for assaults, compared with 2% among non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, age-adjusted death rates from intentional self-harm were two times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT than for non-Indigenous people, land transport accidents nearly three times higher and injury from assault over eight times higher.

Respiratory disease

  • In 2012-2013, 31% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having a respiratory condition. After age-adjustment, the level of respiratory disease was 1.2 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander than non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2012-2013, 18% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported having asthma.
  • In 2011, respiratory diseases were responsible for 7.9% of the total burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, age-adjusted hospitalisation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 5.0 times higher for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3.1 times higher for influenza and pneumonia, 2.1 times higher for whooping cough and 1.8 times higher for asthma and acute upper respiratory infections, than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, chronic lower respiratory disease was the leading cause of death from respiratory disease and the third highest cause of death overall for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT.
  • For 1998 to 2012, age-adjusted death rates for respiratory disease in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT declined by 26% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Eye health

  • In 2015-2016, after age-adjustment, vision impairment and blindness among Indigenous adults were both three times higher than in non-Indigenous adults.
  • In 2012-2013, eye and sight problems were reported by 33% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2012-2013, myopia and hyperopia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were reported at 0.8 and 1.1 times the proportions for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, the estimated prevalence of active trachoma among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-9 years living in at-risk communities in the WA, SA and the NT was 4.6%.
  • In the period 2011-12 to 2012-13, after age-adjustment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were less likely to be hospitalised for diseases of the eye and adnexa than non-Indigenous people.

Ear health and hearing

  • In 2012-2013, ear disease/hearing problems were reported by 12% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-15, the hospitalisation rate for ear disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years was 1.4 times higher than the rate for non-Indigenous children.

Oral health

  • In 2014-15, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 4-14 years with reported tooth or gum problems was 34%, a decrease from 39% in 2008.
  • In 2012-13, around 49% of adults reported no tooth loss; around 47% had lost one or more teeth; and around 5% reported complete tooth loss.
  • In 2014-15, age-adjusted national potentially preventable hospitalisation rates for dental conditions were 1.3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.

Disability

  • In 2012, the overall rate of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians was 23%; after age adjustment, the rate of disability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander was 1.7 times the rate for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2014-15, 6% of disability service users were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with most aged under 50 years (84%).

Communicable diseases

  • For 2009-2013, after age-adjustment, the notification rate for tuberculosis was 11.3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for Australian born non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, the age-adjusted notification rate for hepatitis B was three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2011- 2015, there was a 22% decline in the hepatitis B notification rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2015, the age-adjusted notification rate for hepatitis C was almost five times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2012-2014, the average notification rate for Haemophilus influenzae type b among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 5.3 times the rate in the total population.
  • For 2011-2014, the rate of invasive pneumococcal disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people decreased.
  • In 2007-2010, the age-adjusted notification rate of meningococcal disease was 2.7 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people; the rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0-4 years was 3.8 times higher than for non-Indigenous children.
  • In 2015, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had higher crude notification rates for gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia than non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2015, age-adjusted notification rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) diagnosis were 1.3 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander than non-Indigenous people.

Factors contributing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

Nutrition and breastfeeding

  • In 2012-2013, 54% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported eating an adequate amount of fruit per day but only 8% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported eating an adequate amount of vegetables per day.
  • In 2012-2013, on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people consumed 41% of their total daily energy in the form of discretionary foods.
  • In 2012-2013, 83% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported consuming dairy foods daily.
  • In 2012-2013, 54% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported consuming sugar daily.
  • In 2012-2013, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas were more likely to eat bush food compared with non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2011, the joint effect of all dietary risks combined (13 identified) contributed 9.7% to the burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2012-2013, 83% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0 – 3 years had been breastfed, compared with 93% of non-Indigenous children.

Physical activity

  • In 2012-2013, 47% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in non-remote areas met the target of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days.
  • In 2012-2013, after age-adjustment, 61% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas reported that they were physically inactive, a similar level to that of non-Indigenous people.

Bodyweight

  • In 2012-2013, 69% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were classified as overweight or obese; after age-adjustment, the level of obesity/overweight was 1.2 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2012-2013, around 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 2-14 years were overweight or obese.

Immunisation

  • In 2016, 95% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged five years were fully immunised against the recommended vaccine-preventable diseases.

Tobacco use

  • In 2014-2015, 39% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported they were current smokers; after age-adjustment, this proportion was 2.8 times higher than the proportion among non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2014-2015, 36% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people reported they had never smoked.
  • In 2014, 45% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers reported smoking during pregnancy, compared with 13% of non-Indigenous mothers.
  • For 2009 to 2014, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers who smoked during pregnancy decreased.

Alcohol use

  • In 2011, alcohol use was responsible for 8.3% of the total burden of disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2012-2013, 23% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults abstained from alcohol; this level was 1.6 times higher than among the non-Indigenous population.
  • In 2012-2013, after age-adjustment, lifetime drinking risk was similar for both the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous population.
  • For 2010 to 2013, there was a significant decline for risky drinking in the proportion (from 32% to 23%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 14 years and older.
  • For 2011-12 to 2012-13, after age-adjustment, for a principal diagnosis related to alcohol use, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males were hospitalised at 4.5 times and females at 3.6 times the rates of non-Indigenous males and females.
  • In 2008-2012, the age-adjusted death rates for alcohol-related deaths for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was 4.9 times higher than for non-Indigenous people.

Illicit drug use

  • In 2011, illicit substance use was responsible for 3.7% of the total burden of disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • In 2014-2015 (69%) and 2012-2013 (52%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and older reported they had never used illicit substances.
  • In 2014-2015, 30% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over reported that they had used an illicit substance in the previous 12 months.
  • In 2014-2015, hospitalisation for mental/behavioural disorders from use of amphetamines had the highest rate of separations due to drug use and was more than three times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2010-2014, the rate of drug-induced deaths was 1.9 times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT than for non-Indigenous people.

Volatile substance use

  • For 2012-13 to 2014-15, hospitalisation due to poisoning either accidental or from toxic effects of organic solvents including petroleum derivatives, glues and paints was between two to five times higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2012-13 to 2014-15, hospitalisation separations due to mental and behavioural disorders from use of volatile solvents, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were hospitalised at a rate nine times higher than non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2008-2012, deaths from accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT was nearly twice as many as non-Indigenous males.

Environmental health

  • In 2014-15, 21% of Aboriginal and Torres Islander people were living in overcrowded households.
  • In 2014-15, 82% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households were living in houses of an acceptable standard.
  • In 2014-15, 26% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households reported structural issues within their dwelling.
  • In 2014-15, over 90% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander households reported that they had access to working facilities for washing people clothes and bedding; working facilities for preparing food and working sewerage facilities.
  • In 2014-15, after age adjustment, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were hospitalised for diseases related to environmental health at 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous people.
  • For 2010-2014, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in NSW, Qld, WA, SA and the NT died as a result of diseases associated with poor environmental health at 1.7 times the rate of non-Indigenous people

The Overview, which draws on the most up-to-date, authoritative sources and undertakes some special analyses, is freely available on the HealthInfoNet web resource, along with downloadable PowerPoint presentations of key facts, tables, and figures.

It is an important part of the HealthInfoNet’s commitment to collaborative knowledge exchange, which contributes to closing the gap in health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians by making research and other knowledge available in a form that is easily understood and readily accessible to both practitioners and policy makers.

HealthInfoNet Director, Professor Neil Drew says ‘The Overview is our flagship publication and has proved to be a valuable resource for a very wide range of health professionals, policy makers and others working in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector.

The Overview provides an accurate, evidence based summary of many health conditions in a form that makes it easy for time poor professionals to keep up to date with the current health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia. We have a greater focus on strengths based approaches which you will see in our introduction.’

About the HealthInfoNet: Now in its 20th year, this is a massive Internet resource that informs practice and policy in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by making up to date research and other knowledge readily accessible via any platform.

In this way, the HealthInfoNet contributes to closing the gap in health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Working in the area of translational research with a population health focus, the HealthInfoNet makes research and other information freely available in a form that has immediate, practical utility for practitioners and policy-makers in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, enabling them to make decisions based on the best available evidence www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au

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