How's it going? Australia's Health 2012

Parliament house flag post

How's it going? Australia's Health 2012

Posted 22/06/2012 by Amanda Biggs

 The thirteenth report on Australia's health was released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on 21 June 2012. The AIHW describes Australia's Health 2012 as 'the most comprehensive and authoritative source of national information on health in Australia', and many would not disagree. Produced biennially since 1988, the report has grown both in size and stature as a reliable report card on the status of the country's health and the services and resources that deliver and support it. A companion In brief publication was also released.

Drawing on the resources of the AIHW, the ABS and other key statistical sources, Australia's Health 2012 contains the latest information on major causes of ill health, health service use and health spending, risk factors such as tobacco, obesity and alcohol, health and medical research, palliative care, blood, organ and tissue donation. While it reveals some good news, Australia's Health 2012 also presents evidence of some negative trends, and also highlights some gaps in our knowledge.

On the good news front, Australians continue to enjoy one of the world's longest life expectancies, sixth amongst developed countries. Fewer Australians smoke on a daily basis (15%), and our mortality rates from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer have dropped. Over the last two decades the death rate from cancer fell 23% for males and 17% for females; and the death rate from CVD has fallen a staggering 78% since 1968. Overall, a majority of Australians (85%) rate their health as excellent/very good or good, compared to 15% who rate it as fair or poor.

On the bad news front, the health status of indigenous Australians remains poorer than for non-indigenous Australians. Indigenous Australians have lower life expectancy (12 years less for males and 10 less for females), higher rates of daily smoking (2.2 times higher), 3 times the rate of ear disease among children, lower rates of breast cancer screening (36% compared to 55%), 3 times the rate of diabetes, 6 times the rate of end-stage kidney disease, poorer oral health and they represent 93% of all cases of rheumatic heart disease.

There are other negatives, particularly around risk factors for chronic diseases like diabetes. Australians are getting fatter—25% of adults and 8% of children are obese. We are becoming more sedentary with 60% of adults doing insufficient exercise; and eating less healthily, with only 50% of adults eating enough fruit and less than 1 in 10 eating enough vegetables. The consequence of these poor health behaviours has seen our rate of diabetes more than double over the last decade.

At the same time, the cost of health is growing well above inflation. As a nation we now spend over $121 billion a year on health care. Most of this expenditure comes from governments (70%), but increasingly individuals are bearing a greater cost burden (17.5%), particularly for dental care ($4.7 billion) and medications ($7.7 billion). As a share of total health spending, our out of pocket expenditure is high compared to other developed countries (18.2% compared to 15.8%). Meanwhile, private health insurance covers nearly 46% of the population and funds 12% of health costs.

While the report paints probably the most detailed picture ever of our health status and use of health services, some of the picture is still fuzzy or unclear, due to a lack of information. The report itself highlights some of the significant gaps in our current knowledge. These include a lack of knowledge around health services delivered in primary care settings, a lack of quality indicators for health performance reporting (eg public dental waiting lists), gaps in maternity care data, few measures of socioeconomic status, a lack of survey data from residential aged care facilities, data gaps for hospitals and elective surgery, insufficiently detailed data on our health workforce and data deficiencies and gaps for indigenous Australians.

There remain many challenges for our health system and to retain our reputation as one of the healthiest countries. Not least among these is how to build a sustainable, high quality health system that is both equitable and efficient, while faced with an ageing population, a rising tide of chronic disease, innovative but sometimes costly medical advances, an ageing health workforce and increasingly complex funding and regulatory arrangements. The value of this report and others like it is in helping us better understand these challenges and where we might best direct our efforts.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament climate change elections women social security Indigenous Australians Australian Bureau of Statistics Employment Sport illicit drugs people trafficking taxation Medicare welfare reform Australian Defence Force higher education welfare policy United Nations Asia income management Middle East criminal law disability Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget health financing gambling school education forced labour aid statistics Australian Electoral Commission WADA emissions trading Australia in the Asian Century steroids detention Private health insurance OECD ASADA labour force transport Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Industrial Relations people smuggling dental health National Disability Insurance Scheme Australian Crime Commission slavery Senate election results Papua New Guinea Australian Public Service International Women's Day corruption Afghanistan Fair Work Act child protection debt federal election 2013 parliamentary procedure poker machines ALP New Zealand Newstart Parenting Payment 43rd Parliament political parties Census constitution High Court skilled migration voting Federal Court terrorist groups Higher Education Loan Program HECS youth paid parental leave Aviation environment foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability customs doping health crime health risks multiculturalism aged care Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery sea farers Special Rapporteur leadership United Kingdom UK Parliament Electoral reform politics banking firearms public policy violence against women domestic violence mental health China ADRV terrorism social media pensions welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation governance public service reform Carbon Pricing Mechanism carbon tax mining military history employer employee fishing by-election European Union same sex relationships international relations coal seam gas family assistance planning United Nations Security Council Australian economy food vocational education and training Drugs Indonesia children codes of conduct terrorist financing money laundering Productivity asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Population Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity science research and development Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse federal state relations World Trade Organization Australia accountability housing affordability bulk billing water renewable energy children's health health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation expertise Senators and Members climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry food labelling Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets health reform Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government local government consumer laws PISA royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition Parliamentary remuneration health system Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol energy forced marriage rural and regional Northern Territory Emergency Response ministries social citizenship human rights citizenship Defence High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories workers Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery transparency corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation standards NATO Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly public health smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine regional unemployment asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies trade unions same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders public housing prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines Somalia GDP forestry world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission regulation limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders animal health live exports welfare systems infant mortality middle class welfare honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Constitutional reform referendum Rent Assistance competition policy pharmaceutical benefits scheme obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant homelessness regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Youth Allowance Members suspension citizen engagement policymaking federal election 2010 workplace health and safety Trafficking in Persons Report marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament alcohol Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act entitlements political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing Hung Parliament political education social inclusion Social Inclusion Board maritime early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin Iran sanctions Norway hospitals

Show all
Show less
Back to top