The AIHW undertakes data analysis across a broad range of health topic areas and has been reporting against the Australian Health Performance Framework (AHPF) in Australia's health since 2018.

Key points to know about Australia’s health and health system based on the AHPF, include:

Determinants of health:

  • Generally, the higher a person’s socioeconomic position, the better their health. If all Australians experienced the same disease burden as people in the highest socioeconomic group (that is, people living in the areas of least disadvantage), the total burden could be reduced by about one-fifth.
  • Overall, Indigenous Australians, people from areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, people in rural and remote locations, and people with disability experience more health disadvantages than other Australians. 
  • Over two-thirds (67%) of Australians aged 18 and over, and about one-quarter (25%) of children aged 2–17 are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity as a risk factor is estimated to account for 8.4% of the total disease burden in Australia—second only to tobacco smoking (9.3%).

Health system:

  • Australia’s health system has different components—health promotion, primary health care including allied health and dental, specialist services and hospitals—each supported, in turn, by a network of other organisations, including research bodies, surveillance authorities, medical boards and consumer health groups.
  • Australia has more than 1,300 public and private hospitals and every day, about 21,400 patients use public hospital emergency departments, with an over-representation of people aged 65 and over, children under 5 and Indigenous Australians. On average, people are receiving more primary health services than they were 10 years ago.
  • Since 2000–01, health spending has consistently grown faster than both inflation and population with total spending increasing around 4% every year. In 2017–18 $185.4 billion (or $7,485 per person) was spent on health.
  • Governments fund around two-thirds (68.3%, or $126.6 billion) of all health spending, and non-government sources fund the rest (31.7%, or $58.8 billion). Individuals are the largest contributor to this, contributing $30.6 billion of non-government spending.

Health status:

  • There has been a long and continuing decline in death rates in Australia. Over the period 1907 to 2017, the age-standardised death rate for males fell by 72% and by 76% for females.
  • Although Australians are living longer than ever before, half of us are living with at least one chronic condition, which can affect the quality of our lives, as well as those of our families and carers. 
  • Many chronic conditions can be linked to lifestyle factors such as overweight and obesity, insufficient physical activity, tobacco smoking and alcohol use but there are signs of positive behaviour changes, particularly among young Australians with more teens saying ‘no’ to smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs.
  • One in 2 (50%) Australians are estimated to have at least 1 of 8 selected common chronic conditions: cancer, cardiovascular disease, mental health conditions, arthritis, back pain and problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and diabetes.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of disease burden in Australia, accounting for one-fifth (18%) of the total burden. 
  • There are around 1 in 5 (18% or 4.3 million) Australians with disability. Disability and health have a complex relationship—long-term health conditions might cause disability, and disability can contribute to health problems. On the whole, people with disability have poorer health than people without disability.
  • Nearly half of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their life, with the most common being anxiety, substance use disorders (especially alcohol use) and mood disorders (especially depression).
  • Our life expectancy at birth has increased greatly over the last century. We’re expected to live about 33 years longer than people born in 1890, placing us in the top third of OECD countries for life expectancy. Although, Indigenous Australians have a shorter life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.
  • Palliative care services have risen in Australia due to our ageing population, and rising rates of cancer and other chronic conditions.

The AHPF indicators page provides data visualisations for key indicators under each AHPF domain.

For more analysis of Australia’s health more broadly, see Australia’s Health 2018.

Learn more about the framework