First report gives new insight into the health of refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia
UNDER EMBARGO—until 12.01AM, Friday, 3 November, 2023
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released its first report on the health of refugees and humanitarian entrants, showing their experiences of long-term health conditions and health service use differ to other permanent migrants and the rest of the Australian population.
Compared to the rest of the Australian population and when adjusted for age, refugees and humanitarian entrants are less likely to self-report asthma and cancer (both 60% lower), chronic lung conditions and mental health conditions (both 50%) (2021 Census).
Refugees and humanitarian entrants are, however, more likely to self-report certain long-term health conditions, including diabetes (80% higher), kidney disease (80%), stroke (40%) and dementia (30%) than the rest of the Australian population.
The report, Health of refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia, includes findings from phase one of the project funded by the Department of Home Affairs, and looks at the health outcomes, health service use and causes of death for refugees and humanitarian entrants who arrived in Australia from 2000 to 2020.
‘Good health is vital for refugees and humanitarian entrants to settle in Australia and rebuild their lives through social, economic, and cultural opportunities,’ said AIHW spokesperson Vanessa D’Souza.
‘The experiences of refugees and humanitarian entrants prior to their arrival in Australia can have a significant impact on their health outcomes. Understanding patterns of health outcomes and service use is important to identify gaps in accessing appropriate health care, and to inform the design and delivery of health care and settlement services.’
Almost 9 in 10 refugee and humanitarian entrants had a GP consultation in 2021, with almost all (around 99%) bulk-billed. There are a variety of reasons why bulk-billing may be higher in this population, including a large proportion living in areas where bulk-billing rates are high.
Bulk-billing rates were also higher than the rest of the Australian population across all other broad types of service including specialist attendances (64% compared to 34%) and anaesthetics (63% compared to 11%).
Refugees and humanitarian entrants who arrived within the last 5 years had a slightly higher rate of GP attendances than those who arrived more than 10 years ago (9.5 attendances per person compared with 8.8 attendances per person).
‘Refugees and humanitarian entrants face unique challenges that heighten their risk for some causes of death compared to the rest of the Australian population in their new country of settlement,’ said Vanessa D’Souza.
Between 2007 and 2020, the mortality rate among refugees and humanitarian entrants were 2.4 times as high for accidental drowning and 1.5 times as high for liver cancer when adjusted for age.
While there are limited data available on the health of refugees and humanitarian entrants in Australia, the use of linked data in this report strengthens the evidence base to inform policy, research and health service provision. Phase two of this project will explore data on hospitalisations and the use of specialist homelessness services by refugees and humanitarian entrants.
Media enquiries: Quinn Guy, AIHW: 0468 525 418