People receiving these prescriptions

In 2022–23, 454,000 people were dispensed with at least one palliative care-related prescription nationally, equating to 1.7% of the Australian population (or 1,700 per 100,000 population). For people dispensed with palliative care-related prescriptions (Figure 2):

  • There were more females (251,000 or 55%) than males (203,000 or 45%), equating to 1,900 per 100,000 females and 1,600 per 100,000 males. 
  • Over half (56%) were aged 65 and over – increasing from 5.4% to 21% between the ages 25 and 84, and then declining to 15% for those aged 85 and over. Taking into account the size of the population in each age group, those aged 85 and over had the highest rate (12,500 per 100,000), about 2–3.5 times as high as those in 65–74 and 75–84 age groups (3,700 and 6,300 per 100,000, respectively).
  • The rate varied across the states and territories, ranging from 980 per 100,000 in Northern Territory to 2,200 per 100,000 in Tasmania. Like the number of prescriptions per person, this variation may be due to the different age distribution across the states and territories, with the proportion of people aged 65 and over lowest in Northern Territory and high in Tasmania (ABS 2023).
  • Those living in Inner regional and Outer regional areas were more likely to be dispensed with palliative care-related prescriptions (about 2,300 per 100,000 each) than those in other areas (1,600 per 100,000 in Major cities and 1,300 per 100,000 in Remote and very remote areas). Note that medicines distributed through Remote Area Aboriginal Health Services are not included in these data. This could contribute to the low rate observed in remote areas.

Figure 2: People receiving prescriptions from PBS Palliative Care Schedule, 2022–23

This bar graph shows data on people receiving palliative care-related medications by selected characteristics in 2022–23.  


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2023) Regional population by age and sex, ABS, Australian Government, accessed 10 March 2024.