Australia's health 1998 facts sheet

The health of Australians (pp. 7-27)

  • The five major causes of death in 1996 were ischaemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and colorectal cancer. (p.7)
  • Lung cancer mortality rates in males were at their lowest point in 1996 (55 per 100,000 population) since the late 1960s. Mortality rates for females have been increasing consistently with the highest rate occurring in 1996 (19 per 100,000). (p.9)
  • Life expectancy continues to improve. An Australian boy born in 1996 could expect to live 75.4 years and a girl 81.1 years. In 1996, life expectancy for men at age 65 was 15.9 years and for women 19.5 years. (p.11)
  • In 1993, there were 3,176,700 people (18% of the population) in Australia with disability (restriction or lack of ability to perform normal functions or activities. (p.21)

The health of subpopulations (pp. 28-74)

  • In 1992-94, life expectancy at birth was approximately 14-18 years lower for Indigenous males and 16-20 years lower for Indigenous females compared to other Australians (data for Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia). (p.28)
  • In 1996, death rates for Indigenous people in Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia were about three times higher than the rates for other Australians. Rates were higher for almost every specific cause of death. (p.29)
  • Total recurrent health services expenditure, through government and non-government programs, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in 1995-96 was estimated at $853 million or 2.2% of total Australian recurrent health services expenditure. This was $2,320 per Indigenous person, about 8% higher than for other Australians. (p.38)
  • Death rates for coronary heart disease are higher in rural and remote areas. (p.41)
  • Birth rates for women in their twenties declined to their lowest levels ever in 1996, down to 64.6 per 1,000 for women aged 20-24 years and 116.7 per 1,000 for women aged 25-29 years. (p.50)
  • There are no national data on induced abortions. However, in South Australia in 1996, there were 5,535 abortions - 29.5% of all pregnancies ended in abortion. (p.52)
  • The major causes of death in young people are accidents, poisoning, violence, suicide and cancer. (p.61)
  • Between 1987 and 1996 the male death rate fell from 125 to 102 and the female death rate fell from 45 to 31 deaths per 100,000 population. (p.61)
  • Around half of the population aged 65 years and over suffer from arthritis. The condition is more prevalent in females (1995 NHS). (p.66)

National health priorities (pp. 75-114)

  • Cardiovascular disease accounted for about 54,000 deaths or 42% of all deaths in 1996. Coronary heart disease accounted for 23% of all deaths, stroke for 10%. (p.77) Indigenous Australians die from cardiovascular disease at approximately twice the rate of the total Australian population. (p.78) People of lower socioeconomic status are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease compared to those of higher socioeconomic status. (p.79)
  • Cancer accounts for 29% of male deaths and 25% of female deaths. (p.85) Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men accounting for 30.0% of all cancers in males. (p.86) In 1996, lung cancer accounted for 25% of cancer deaths among men, and prostate and colorectal cancer accounted for 14% and 13% respectively. Breast cancer accounts for 29.5% of all cancers in women. (p.89)
  • There were 7,557 deaths (6% of all deaths) in 1996, and over half a million hospital admissions in 1995-96 due to injury or poisoning. (p.96)
  • Injury is the main cause of death for children and young adults-47% of all death between the ages of 1 and 44 years in 1996. (p.96)
  • The 1997 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that 17.7% of Australian adults had experienced the symptoms of a mental disorder at some time during the 12 months prior to the survey. (p.104)
  • Young adults aged 18-24 had the highest prevalence of mental disorder (26.6%). (p.104)
  • Between 1984 and 1995, mortality from diabetes increased at 1.3% per annum among males, but changed little among females. (p.111)
  • Between 1985 and 1994, diabetes mortality among Indigenous Australians rose sharply, at a rate of 9.6% per year among males and 5.4% per year among females. (p.112)

Developments in public health (pp. 115-156)

  • The annual number of AIDS diagnoses in Australia appears to have reached a peak in 1994 with an estimated 962 diagnoses, and is estimated to have declined to 706 diagnoses in 1996. AIDS incidence is projected to decrease to 630 cases in 1998 and to 600 cases in 2000. (p.117 and figure p.118)
  • Based on information from the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register, of children born in the second quarter of 1996, 75.9% were fully immunised at their first birthday (having received all primary vaccinations against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis and Hib). (p.124)
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) has been epidemic in Australia since 1993. Notification rates increased from 2.0 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 30.5 per 100,000 population in 1994. Nine infants were reported to have died from pertussis in Australia in the 15 months to December 1997. (p.124)
  • There were 61,480 hospital admissions for asthma in 1995-96. It was the most common reason for hospital admission among those of school age and younger. (p.127)
  • In 1979, nearly a quarter of Australian adults were without any natural teeth, but in 1996 this applied to only a small minority of adults. (p.130-131)
  • Exposure to fluoride, through both water fluoridation and toothpaste with fluoride, has been credited with much of the considerable oral health gains from the prevention and control of caries. (p.133)
  • In 1995, the highest use of tobacco was in the age group 25-29 years for both males (34.7%) and females (35.0%). (p.143)
  • In the younger age groups, females tended to drink at hazardous or harmful levels more than males - 66% of females and 45% of males aged 20-24 years. (p.146)
  • Although a smaller proportion of Indigenous people drink alcohol compared to the Australian population overall, they are more likely to drink at higher levels. (p.146)
  • Cannabis is by far the most common illicit drug used in Australia. In 1995, approximately 32% of the population aged 14 years and over reported having tried the drug at some time in their life. (p.147)
  • There was an estimated sevenfold increase in deaths from opioid overdoses between 1979 and 1995. (p.148)
  • The proportion of overweight or obese women aged between 25 and 64 years increased from 27% in 1980 to 46% in 1995, and the proportion of overweight or obese men increased from 47% to 66% over the same period. (p.150)
  • On average, men in 1995 weighed 3.6 kg than their counterparts in 1980, and women 4.8 kg more. (p.151)

Health services delivery, costs and performance (pp.157-197)

  • Average spending on health services per person in Australia was $2,345 in 1996-97, an increase of $74 over the 1995-96 level, or 1.7% in real terms. This was less than the average annual real growth rate of 2.8% for the period 1992-93 to 1995-96. (p.167)
  • Total revenue collected by the Commonwealth through the Medicare levy in 1996-97 was $4,130 million. (p.174)
  • In 1995-96, private health insurance accounted for 11.4% or $4,426 million of total recurrent health expenditure. (p.175)
  • Between 1986 and 1995, coverage for single persons fell from 35% to 26% , and coverage among couples with children fell from 64% to 47%.
  • The decline in coverage was more marked among the younger age groups, with coverage for those aged between 25 to 34 years falling from 50% to 27% between 1986 and 1995. (p.180)
  • There has been strong growth in employment in community health centres, increasing by 84.1% between 1991 and 1996. (p.182)
  • Female doctors as a proportion of the medical workforce have risen from 19.0% to 30.3% between 1981 and 1996, and this trend is expected to continue. (p.184) There are similar trends in dentistry and pharmacy.
  • There was a 41% increase in available hostel beds between 1989-90 and 1995-96, but nursing home accommodation increased by only 3% in the same period. (p.190)
  • The ratio of hostel beds to the population aged 70 and over has increased from 36 beds per 1,000 in 1989-90 to 42 beds per 1,000 in 1995-96. (p.190)
  • There has been an increase in the number of hostel residents who require assistance with personal care activities, from 54% in 1992 to 73% in 1996. (p.190)

Health services use and access (pp.198-228)

  • Principal diagnoses within the five National Health Priority Areas accounted for 24% of hospital separations (1,261,600) and 49% of patient days (8,461,300). Cardiovascular disease accounted for the largest number of separations (412,800), followed by injury or poisoning (394,000). (p.203)
  • Of the most common problems managed by GPs, hypertension ranked first, being managed at a rate of 9.3 per 100 encounters, followed by upper respiratory tract infection (8.7 per 100 encounters), acute bronchitis (4.0 per 100), immunisation (3.5 per 100) and asthma (3.5 per 100). (p.213)
  • In the 1996 National Dental Telephone Survey, nearly a quarter of respondents said they had avoided or delayed visiting a dental professional because of the cost, and about 19% said that the cost had prevented them from having dental treatment which was recommended or which they wanted. (p.221)


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