Rate of health checks
This section looks at the rate of Indigenous‑specific health checks among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, including:
- National rates in 2020–21 and differences by age and sex
- Trends in the annual rate of checks, from 2010–11 to 2020–21
- Differences by geographic area in 2020–21
- Patterns of use over a 5‑year period from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2021
- Time between health checks for patients in 2020–21.
Rates have been calculated using ABS Indigenous population estimates and projections based on the 2016 Census. For certain geographic breakdowns, Indigenous population estimates have been derived by disaggregating available ABS data (see Box 1). See also the note on 2021 Census-based population data in Box 1.
Box 1: Population data used in rate calculations
The ABS’ estimated resident population (ERP) is the official measure of the Australian population. The ERP is based on results of the 5‑yearly Census of Population and Housing, with adjustments for net undercount as measured by the Post Enumeration Survey (PES).
2016 Census-based populations:
ERP estimates for Indigenous Australians based on the 2016 Census are available for 30 June 2016 (ABS 2018a). The ABS also produces projections of the Indigenous population for post-Census years based on assumptions about fertility, mortality and migration. These span the period 30 June 2017 to 30 June 2031 and are available for Australia, States and Territories, Indigenous Regions and combined Remoteness Areas (ABS 2019). A similar method was used by the ABS to backcast estimates spanning the period 2006 to 2015 (ABS 2019). The ABS makes no attempt to predict future changes in Indigenous identification when modelling these projections, though increased identification has had large impacts in the past (ABS 2018b).
In this report, annual rates of health checks are based on averages of the ABS’ Series B projections. For example, population denominators for 2020–21 are the average of 30 June 2020 and 30 June 2021 projections. For Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3), Greater Capital City Statistical Areas (GCCSA), Primary Health Networks (PHN) and expanded Remoteness Areas (RA), projections have been approximated by the AIHW using Iterative Proportional Fitting, supported by 2016 Census counts. This technique produces estimates that match the ABS’ published outputs when summed back up to larger areas. Uncertainty in these estimates would be difficult to quantify, since there are many sources of error, but generally, estimates for areas with larger populations would be more reliable.
ERP estimates for the Indigenous Australian population based on the 2021 Census were not available at the time of release, but the 2021 PES indicates that the population identifying as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander origin should have been around 983,000 people on Census night (10 August 2021) (ABS 2022). This is compared with a projected 879,000 people on 30 June 2021, based on the 2016 Census, 2016 PES and natural growth assumptions. Based on that difference, this means many of the percentages presented in this report could be overestimated, though it would vary across age groups and geographic areas. Future iterations of this web report will use 2021 Census-based population denominators, when available.
See Data sources and notes for additional information.
Comparability with rates published elsewhere
Implementation Plan goals
The Australian Government’s new national health policy to improve health and wellbeing among Indigenous Australians is the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031. For the earlier health plan, national goals were set for increasing the use of Indigenous‑specific health checks (see national goals for health checks). Information about the national goals can be found in the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023.
Rates in this section differ from rates used to assess progress towards the Implementation Plan goals due to different data specifications. Rates in this report are calculated using numbers of patients (while the national goals are based on number of services, which are higher than the number of patients), and presented according to the date the service was provided (while the national goals are based on the date the claim for the service was processed). Population denominators for rates presented in this report are projections based on the 2016 Census, while the national goals use projections based on the 2011 Census. Age of patients is also calculated differently for the national goals. Health check items for residents of Aged Care facilities are also included in this report. See Data sources and notes for additional information.
Rates may be published elsewhere based on slightly different data. See Data sources and notes for additional information.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2018a) Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, June 2016, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 22 February 2022.
ABS (2018b) Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Counts, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 22 February 2022.
ABS (2019) Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2006 – 2031, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 22 February 2022.
ABS (2022) 2021 Census overcount and undercount, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 28 June 2022.