The Health FAQs provide brief answers to questions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, with information about Indigenous 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 Indigenous population?
- Population details
- Indigenous people make up 3% of the population in Australia. NSW has the largest Indigenous population and the NT has the highest proportion of Indigenous people.
More about population details
- Identification of Indigenous status
- The identification of Indigenous people for statistical collections is based largely on self-identification.
More about identification of Indigenous status
- Indigenous women in Australia have more babies than non-Indigenous women. Indigenous women generally have babies earlier in life than non-Indigenous women.
More about births
- Indigenous Australians die at a younger age than non-Indigenous Australians. Currently, Indigenous women are expected to live until almost 73 years of age and Indigenous men are expected to live until around 67 years of age. These estimates have been revised and are substantially higher than they were in the past.
More about deaths
- Indigenous people are admitted to the hospital more than non-Indigenous people. Many of the admissions involve dialysis (a treatment for kidney disease).
More about hospitalisation
What do we know about specific health conditions among the Indigenous population?
- Cardiovascular disease
- Indigenous people are diagnosed more frequently and suffer higher mortality from cardiovascular disease than non-Indigenous people.
More about cardiovascular disease
- Indigenous people are diagnosed with cancer slightly more frequently than non-Indigenous people. The mortality of Indigenous people from cancer is higher than that of non-Indigenous people.
More about cancer
- Diabetes is much more common among Indigenous people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
More about diabetes
- Social and emotional wellbeing
- Indigenous 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 Indigenous population than they are for the non-Indigenous population.
More about social and emotional wellbeing
- Kidney health
- Kidney health is a very serious problem among the Indigenous population and the leading cause of Indigenous hospital admissions.
More about kidney health
- Injury is much more common among Indigenous people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
More about injury
- Respiratory health
- Levels of respiratory disease are similar for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, but asthma is more common among Indigenous people. Indigenous people are more than twice as likely to die from a respiratory disease as other Australians.
More about respiratory health
- Eye health
- Blindness was six times more common for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people aged over 40 years, even though Indigenous children have better vision better than non-Indigenous children.
More about eye conditions
- Ear health
- Levels of ear disease and hearing problems were higher for Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people, especially for children and young people.
More about ear health
- Oral health
- Oral health problems, including caries and gum disease, are more common among Indigenous people than among non-Indigenous people.
More about oral health
- Disability is much more common among Indigenous people and occurs at younger ages than among non-Indigenous people.
More about disability
- Communicable diseases
- The communicable diseases that are most important to the health of Indigenous 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 Indigenous population than the non-Indigenous population.
More about communicable diseases
What do we know about protective and risk factors among the Indigenous population?
- Most Indigenous people eat fruits and vegetables every day, but are more likely than non-Indigenous people to miss out on eating enough of them daily.
More about nutrition
- Physical activity
- Indigenous people are less physically active than non-Indigenous people.
More about physical activity
- Tobacco use
- Tobacco use is more common among Indigenous people than non-Indigenous people, contributing to a greater burden of disease.
More about tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Indigenous 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.
More about alcohol use
- Injecting drug use
- Injecting drug use is more common among Indigenous people than among non-Indigenous people. Disadvantage in areas such as education, employment and income contribute to the greater use of illicit drugs.
More about injecting drug use
What are the main references about Indigenous health?
- We have provided an up-to-date list of publications and reports that provide a good overall picture of Indigenous health.
More about main references