The 2018 – 19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows a reduction in smoking and improvements in how people feel about their health, but an increase in many chronic diseases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The information from the survey can help inform NACCHO policy but also service delivery priorities for local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (or ACCHOs).
NACCHO Chair, Donnella Mills said, “The latest NATSIHS report demonstrates the ACCHO smoking cessation programs and health promotion activities are working. It is encouraging to see fewer younger people are taking up smoking in the first place, with a decrease in people ages 15 years and over who smoked every day, falling from 41 per cent in 2012 – 13 to 37 per cent in 2018 – 19.
“The results unfortunately also show an increase in many chronic diseases for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with 46% reporting one or more chronic condition (up from 40% in 2012-13). Thus, providing more evidence that additional funding is needed to Close the Gap in health outcomes as chronic diseases are the major contributors to the mortality gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
Ms Mills added, “It is positive to see more than four in 10 people rated their health as excellent or very good, up from 39 per cent in 2012 – 13 to 45 per cent and more than half of children aged 2-17 years had seen a dentist or dental professional in the last 12 months.”
The geographic distribution in 2018-19 of these chronic conditions reveals that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in remote communities have higher rates of kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease whereas Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in non-remote areas have a higher proportion of disability, asthma and mental health conditions.
The NATSIHS collects information from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as part of the Australian Health Survey. The survey is designed by asking the same questions at every administration to monitor changes in health conditions and behaviours over time.
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