News

Mixed outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health


Matt Woodley


11/12/2019 3:06:39 PM

Smoking rates have declined, but nearly one in two people have a chronic condition that poses a significant health problem, a new ABS report found.

Aboriginal woman and baby
One in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas have a chronic condition.

The 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), measures long-term health conditions, risk factors, and social and emotional wellbeing indicators.
 
Stephen Collett, ABS Indigenous and Social Information Program Manager, pointed to decreasing smoking rates as one positive outcome revealed by the survey, in particular people aged 15 years and over who smoked every day, which has fallen from 41% in 2012–13 to 37% in 2018–19.
 
‘In addition, the proportion of young people who had never smoked increased between 2012–13 and 2018–19 from 77% to 85% for 15–17-year-olds and from 43% to 50% for those aged 18–24,’ he said.
 
‘The results also show a decline in the proportion of people aged 18 years and over who consumed more than four standard drinks on one occasion in the last 12 months, down from 57% in 2012–13 to 54% in 2018–19.’
 
It also showed 86% of respondents had seen a GP or specialist in the past 12 months, and that 45% rated their health as excellent or very good, up from 39% in 2012–13.
 
However, 46% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had one or more chronic conditions that posed a significant health problem, up from 40% in 2012–13.
 
‘People living in non-remote areas were more likely to report having one or more chronic conditions [48%] than people living in remote areas [33%],’ Mr Collett said.
 
‘The proportion of people with diabetes was higher in remote areas [12%] than non-remote areas [7%] and similarly, rates of kidney disease were higher in remote areas [3.4%] than non-remote areas [1.4%].’
 
Other statistics of note:

  • Between 2012–13 and 2018–19, the proportion of people who were overweight or obese increased both for children aged 2–14 years (up from 30% to 37%) and those aged 15 years and over (up from 66% to 71%)
  • A quarter of people (24%) aged two years and over reported having a mental or behavioural condition. The Australian Capital Territory reported the highest rate (40%), while Northern Territory had the lowest (10%)
  • More than one-quarter (28%) of people aged 15 years and over had used substances for non-medical purposes in the previous year, up from 22% in 2012–13
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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health ABS chronic disease



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Dr Cho Oo Maung   12/12/2019 8:49:07 AM

If we want to close the gap, we need more Aboriginal Community Health Educators from local communities. Smoking costs a lot to them in different ways and rate reduction could be higher price of cigarette. Some are heading to use Cannabis substituting cigarette. Role model community / local based Aboriginal Health Educators could solve closing the gap in long term.