Variation between population groups
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Around 7.9% of Indigenous Australians (64,100 people) were living with diabetes according to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS) (ABS 2019b). This is similar to the 7.7% reported in the equivalent survey in 2012–13 (ABS 2014).
After controlling for differences in the age structure of the populations, based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australians were almost 3 times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts.
Using the NDSS for reporting on Indigenous Australians
The representation and accuracy of data relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the NDSS is influenced by a range of factors, which may reduce the accuracy of reporting on these communities and prevent the use of the NDSS for reporting on prevalence by Indigenous status.
- Before 2005, data entry for the NDSS registration form for Indigenous status coded all ‘unknown’ or ‘not stated’ responses to the Indigenous status question as ‘non-Indigenous’. In 2005, the NDSS database was amended to add an extra value to the Indigenous status variable to indicate ‘inadequate/not stated’ where Indigenous status was not known. As a result of this issue, Indigenous status cannot be determined for 98% of people registered on the NDSS prior to 2005.
- Indigenous Australians may not register with the NDSS at all. Where Indigenous people live in rural, remote and very remote locations, NDSS Access Points may be limited, or consumables may be obtained through bulk supplies provided to health services through the NDSS. Diabetes-related products can also be accessed through other programs. These issues may result in lower registration rates for the NDSS among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For example, programs operating under Section 100 of the National Health Act 1953 – such as Aboriginal Medical Services and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation – provide Indigenous Australians access to free and subsidised products that people with insulin-treated diabetes need.
The age-standardised prevalence rate of diabetes according to linked NDSS and APEG data was around 1.9 times as high among those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas as in the highest socioeconomic areas (Figure 4).
In 2020, the age-standardised prevalence rate of diabetes according to linked NDSS and APEG data was highest in Remote and very remote areas where people were 1.3 times more likely to be living with diabetes than those in Major cities (Figure 4).
Figure 4: Prevalence of diabetes, by selected population groups and sex, 2020