Rate of health checks

This section looks at the rate of Indigenous-specific health checks among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, including:

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).

Box 1: Population data used in rate calculations

The ABS’s 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.

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 update Indigenous population estimates for years 2010 to 2015, to incorporate improved Indigenous identification for 2016. 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’ outputs, e.g. population denominators for 2019–20 are the average of 30 June 2019 and 30 June 2020 projections. For Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3), 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, areas with larger population estimates would be more reliable.

Note that COVID-19 strongly affected Australia’s population growth in 2020, due mainly to negative net overseas migration between April and June (ABS 2020). Overseas migration has a much smaller impact on Indigenous population growth, compared to natural increase (births and deaths), so should not considerably affect the accuracy of projections (ABS 2018b). Internal migration patterns may have changed unpredictably though, which would affect the reliability of sub-national population estimates.

See Data sources and notes for additional information.

The Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 set national goals for increasing the use of Indigenous-specific health checks (see also national goals for health checks). Information about progress against the goals can be found in AIHW 2020.

Note: 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 service was processed). Age of patients is also calculated differently for the national goals. See Data sources and notes – section ‘National goals for health checks’ for additional information.