Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher mortality and morbidity rates than non-Indigenous Australians. Providing access to quality health services across the continuum of care, from prevention through to screening, diagnosis and treatment, can decrease disease burden and promote health equity for the whole population. Welfare services, such as alcohol and other drug treatment services, and social and emotional wellbeing services, are also important for improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

The AIHW monitors and reports on Indigenous use of primary health care services through the national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs) and Online Service Reports (OSR) data collections. These data are submitted by Indigenous-specific primary health care services through the Department of Health’s web-based reporting tool: the Health Data Portal.

The nKPIs comprise 24 indicators that are grouped into 3 themes: maternal and child health, preventive health, and chronic disease management. The indicators were designed to support the Closing the Gap targets by providing regular comparison data. The AIHW produces service-level reports that can be used by organisations to assess their performance, and national reports that monitor progress and highlight areas for improvement to support policy and planning at the national state/territory level.

The OSR data are collected from organisations funded by the Australian Government to provide one or more of the following health services to Indigenous people:

  • primary health care
  • maternal and child health care
  • social and emotional wellbeing services
  • substance use services.

The data include the number of clients seen and contacts made, staffing and vacancies, and service gaps and challenges faced by organisations.

The AIHW undertakes a range of spatial analysis work to assess the access of Indigenous people to health care across Australia. Spatial analysis is also used to assess access to the clinical health workforce (professions which have particular relevance to Indigenous Australians) to help identify areas in Australia that face workforce shortages. Use of health care services is reported through the Indigenous health check tool, which provides information on Indigenous-specific health checks. The tool shows numbers and usage rates of the checks at various geographic areas, including jurisdictions and public health networks. The AIHW collects data on ear and hearing health programs, and oral health programs, provided under Northern Territory Remote Aboriginal Investment partnership. We also support publications that review the evidence and evaluations on what works to close the gap in Indigenous disadvantage in areas such as early childhood, education, employment and family violence.