It is now widely accepted that health is much more than the presence or absence of disease—it reflects genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors; cultural influences; socioeconomic conditions; and the availability and quality of health care programs and services.

The biennial Australia’s health report encompasses the ideas that health is an important part of how people feel and function; that it contributes to social and economic wellbeing; that there are degrees of good health as well as of bad health; that health can very over time; and that health should be seen in a broad social context. Every edition of the report answers fundamental questions about our health status and conditions that cause ill health; examines specific risks and health inequalities faced by different groups within our population; and discusses the services that are provided to people to prevent illness, or to treat and support them in times of illness.

Since 2014, Australia’s health has included a collection of analytical feature articles that examine current health issues. These articles cover a broad range of topics—recent examples include illicit drug use; safety and quality in our hospitals; social determinants of health; health comorbidities; and highlights from the Australian burden of disease study. The articles are underpinned by short statistical ‘snapshots’ that provide key facts and figures in an easily accessible format.

Australia’s health also reports on the performance of our health system against agreed national indicators — a feature that has been an integral part of the report since 2008.

The AIHW manages many important national health information collections, and relies on the cooperation of state and territory governments, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, other independent bodies and the non-government sector to ensure the accurate and timeliness of health-related data. Although there have been many improvements to national health data over recent years, many gaps remain— these gaps, along with other limitations, are highlighted throughout the Australia’s health reports.

Australia’s health is a sister publication to the Australia’s welfare biennial report; both reports are accompanied by companion ‘in brief’ booklets.