This section presents selected key findings from the report. Also, each chapter from 2 to 8 begins with its own list of key points. Please refer to the index at the back to help you find more detail on these topics.
Life expectancy and death
- Australia’s life expectancy at birth continues to rise and is among the highest in the world—almost 84 years for females and 79 years for males.
- Death rates are falling for many of our major health problems such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and injuries.
- Coronary heart disease causes the largest number of ‘lost years’ through death among males aged under 75 years, and breast cancer causes the most among females.
- Cancer is Australia’s leading broad cause of disease burden (19% of the total), followed by cardiovascular disease (16%) and mental disorders (13%).
- The rate of heart attacks continues to fall, and survival from them continues to improve.
- Around 1 in 5 Australians aged 16–85 years has a mental disorder at some time in a 12-month period, including 1 in 4 of those aged 16–24 years.
- The burden of Type 2 diabetes is increasing and it is expected to become the leading cause of disease burden by 2023.
- The incidence of treated end-stage kidney disease is increasing, with diabetes as the main cause.
- Risk factors contribute to over 30% of Australia’s total burden of death, disease and disability.
- Tobacco smoking is the single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia.
- However, Australia’s level of smoking continues to fall and is among the lowest for OECD countries, with a daily smoking rate of about 1 in 6 adults in 2007.
- Three in 5 adults (61%) were either overweight or obese in 2007–08.
- One in 4 children (25%) aged 5–17 years were overweight or obese in 2007–08.
- Of Australians aged 15–74 years in 2006–2007, less than half (41%) had an adequate or better level of health literacy.
- Rates of sexually transmissible infections continue to increase, particularly among young people.
- Use of illicit drugs has generally declined in Australia, including the use of methamphetamines (the drug group that includes ‘ice’).
Mothers and babies
- The proportion of females having caesarean sections has continued to increase over the latest decade, from 21% in 1998 to 31% in 2007.
- The perinatal death rate of babies born to Indigenous mothers in 2007 was twice that of other babies.
Children and young Australians
- Death rates among children and young people halved in the two decades to 2007, largely due to fewer deaths from transport accidents.
- More children are being vaccinated against major preventable childhood diseases, with 91% (the target level) being fully vaccinated at 2 years of age—but only 82% of 5 year olds are covered.
- Land transport accidents and intentional self-harm accounted for 2 in every 5 deaths (42%) among young Australians (aged 15–24 years) in 2007.
People aged 25–64 years
- The main causes of death in this age group in 2007 were coronary heart disease for males (14% of their deaths) and breast cancer for females (12%).
- For older people, the main causes of death are heart disease, stroke and cancer.
- At age 65, Australian males can now expect to live a further 19 years to almost 84 years of age, and females a further 22 years to almost 87.
Groups of special interest
- People with disability are more likely than others to have poor physical and mental health, and higher rates of risk factors such as smoking and overweight.
- Compared with those who have social and economic advantages, disadvantaged Australians are more likely to have shorter lives.
- Indigenous people are generally less healthy than other Australians, die at much younger ages, and have more disability and a lower quality of life.
- People living in rural and remote areas tend to have higher levels of disease risk factors and illness than those in major cities.
- Compared with the general community, prisoners have significantly worse health, with generally higher levels of diseases, mental illness and illicit drug use than Australians overall.
- Most migrants enjoy health that is equal to or better than that of the Australian-born population—often with lower rates of death, mental illness and disease risk factors.
- Compared with those in the general community, Defence Force members have better health, although their work can place them at higher risk of injury.
- The veteran community is less likely than the general community to report being in very good or excellent health.
- In 2007–08, just over 2% of total health expenditure was for preventive services or health promotion.
- Between 1998–99 and 2008–09, there was an increase in general practitioners’ management of some chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes and depression.
- Ambulances attended 2.9 million incidents in 2008–09, of which 39% were emergencies.
- The number of hospital admissions rose by 37% in the decade to 2007–08.
- Over half of the hospital admissions (56%) in 2007–08 were same-day admissions, compared with 48% in 1998–99.
- In 2008–09, about 1 in 9 of all prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme were for a mental health-related medication.
- Employment in health occupations is still growing—23% growth between 2003 and 2008, almost double that across all occupations (13%).
- Between 2002 and 2007, there was a 26% increase in people completing health occupation university courses.
- The mix of the medical workforce changed between 1997 and 2007
- the supply of primary care doctors (in ‘full-time equivalent’ numbers per 100,000 population) has decreased
- the supply of specialists, specialists-in-training and hospital-based non-specialists has increased.
- Health expenditure during 2007–08 was $103.6 billion, exceeding $100 billion for the first time.
- Health expenditure in 2007–08 equalled 9.1% of gross domestic product (GDP).
- As a share of its GDP, Australia spent more than the United Kingdom in 2007–08 (8.4%), a similar amount to the OECD median (8.9%) and much less than the United States (16%).
- Governments funded almost 70% of health expenditure in 2007–08.
- For Indigenous Australians in 2006–07, spending per person on health and high-level residential aged care was 25% higher than for other Australians.
Preliminary pages (295KB PDF): Letter of transmittal; Contributors; Preface; Key points
- Understanding health
- Australia at a glance
- Improving health and measuring performance
- The Australian health system: an outline
- National health information
- How this report is presented
- Australia’s changing population
- How Australia compares
- Perceptions of health and life
- Functioning, disability and health
- Long-term conditions
- Causes of death
- Burden of disease
- What are health determinants?
- Environmental factors
- Socioeconomic characteristics
- Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs
- Health behaviours
- Biomedical factors
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Mental health problems and illnesses
- Respiratory diseases
- Arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions
- Infectious diseases
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Rural Australians
- Socioeconomically disadvantaged people
- People with disability
- Overseas-born people
- Defence Force members
- The veteran community
- How does health status vary with age?
- Mothers and babies
- Children and young people
- People aged 25–64 years
- Older people
- Public health services
- Primary care and community health services
- Specialised health services
- Use of medicines
- Safety and quality
- Health expenditure and health funding
- Health workforce
- The National Health Performance Framework and indicators
- Health status
- Determinants of health
- Health system performance
End matter (619KB PDF): References; Methods and conventions; Abbreviations; Glossary; Index