Overview

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive an annual health check, designed specifically for Indigenous Australians and funded through Medicare (Department of Health 2016). This Indigenous-specific health check was introduced in recognition that Indigenous Australians, as a group, experience some particular health risks.

The aim of the Indigenous-specific health check is to encourage early detection and treatment of common conditions that cause ill health and early death—for example, diabetes and heart disease.

During the health check, a doctor—or a multidisciplinary team led by a doctor—will assess a person’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing (Department of Health 2016). The doctor can then provide the person with information, advice, and care to maintain and improve their health.

The doctor may also refer the person to other health care professionals for follow-up care as needed—for example, physiotherapists, podiatrists or dieticians.

This report presents information on the use of:

  • health checks provided under the Indigenous-specific Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item 715; and
  • follow-up services provided under Indigenous-specific MBS items 10987 and 81300 to 81360.

The data include all Indigenous-specific health checks and follow-ups billed to Medicare by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services or other Indigenous health services, as well as by mainstream GPs and other health professionals.

Note that the data are limited to Indigenous-specific MBS items, so do not provide a complete picture of health checks and follow-ups provided to Indigenous Australians. For example, Indigenous Australians may receive similar care through other MBS items (that is, items that are not specific to Indigenous Australians), or through a health care provider who is not eligible to bill Medicare (see also Data sources and notes).

Throughout the report, ‘Indigenous-specific health checks’ is used interchangeably with ‘health checks’ to assist readability. Similarly, ‘Indigenous-specific follow-ups’ is used interchangeably with ‘follow-ups’.

Indigenous-specific health checks and follow-ups: data summary

Text showing that 29%25 of Indigenous Australians (or 230,000 people) received an Indigenous-specific health check in 2017–18.

Column graph showing the proportion of Indigenous Australians who received an Indigenous-specific health check by State and Territory. In 2017–18, across states and territories, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of Indigenous-specific health checks (with 38%25 of the Indigenous population receiving an Indigenous-specific health check), followed by Queensland (37%25). Tasmania had the lowest rate (13%25).

Text showing in 2016–17, the Northern Territory had the highest rate of Indigenous-specific follow-up (with 55%25 of the Indigenous population receiving an Indigenous-specific follow-up within 12 month of their Indigenous-specific health check) across states and territories.

Text showing that 59%25 Indigenous Australians received at least one Indigenous-specific health check over the 5-year period to 30 June 2018.

Text showing 40%25 of Indigenous Australians who had an Indigenous-specific health check in 2016–17 had an Indigenous-specific follow-up service in the next 12 months.

Text showing from 2010–11 to 2016–17, the rate of Indigenous-specific follow-up after an Indigenous-specific health check increased from 12%25 to 40%25.