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Australian Aboriginal Facts


The Health FAQs provide brief answers to questions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, with information about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, health problems and common risk factors. The answers are updated regularly as new information becomes available, and will expand to include information about other health conditions and social determinants.

What do we know about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population?

Population details

Based on information from the 2011 Census, the ABS estimates that there were 729, 048 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Australia in 2015.

Identification of Indigenous statusThe identification of Indigenous people for statistical collections is based largely on self-identification.
Births

In 2014, there were 17, 779 births registered in Australia where one or both parents were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (six in every 100 births).

Deaths

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people generally die at a younger age than non-Indigenous people. Currently, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are expected to live until almost 74 years of age and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are expected to live until around 69 years of age.

HospitalisationAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are admitted to the hospital more than non-Indigenous people. Many of the admissions involve dialysis (a treatment for kidney disease).

What do we know about specific health conditions among the Indigenous population?

Cardiovascular diseaseAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed more frequently and suffer higher mortality from cardiovascular disease than non-Indigenous people.
CancerAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are diagnosed with cancer slightly more frequently than non-Indigenous people. The mortality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from cancer is higher than that of non-Indigenous people.
DiabetesDiabetes is much more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
Social and emotional wellbeingAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people report experiencing more significant stressors and higher levels of psychological distress when compared with non-Indigenous people. Hospitalisation and deaths due to 'mental and behavioural disorders' are also higher for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than they are for the non-Indigenous population.
Kidney healthKidney health is a very serious problem among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population and the leading cause of Indigenous hospital admissions.
InjuryInjury is much more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
Respiratory healthLevels of respiratory disease are similar for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people, but asthma is more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to die from a respiratory disease as other Australians.
Eye health

Blindness is more common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have better vision better than non-Indigenous children.

Ear healthLevels of ear disease and hearing problems are higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people, especially for children and young people.
Oral healthOral health problems, including caries and gum disease, are more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than among non-Indigenous people.
DisabilityDisability is much more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
Communicable diseasesThe communicable diseases that are most important to the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include: tuberculosis; hepatitis; sexually transmissible infections; HIV/AIDS; Haemophilus influenzae type b; pneumococcal disease; meningococcal disease; and skin infections and infestations. Most of these communicable diseases are far more common in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population than the non-Indigenous population.

What do we know about protective and risk factors among the Indigenous population?

NutritionMost Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people eat fruits and vegetables every day, but are more likely than non-Indigenous people to miss out on eating enough of them daily.
Physical activityAbout half of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Islander people in a recent survey met the target of 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days.
Tobacco useTobacco use is more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people than non-Indigenous people, contributing to a greater burden of disease.
Alcohol useIndigenous people are more likely to not drink any alcohol than non-Indigenous people, but Indigenous who do drink are more likely to do it at harmful levels.


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