The health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people has been improving over the last two decades. The most recent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey showed that smoking rates have decreased from nearly one in two people over the age of 15 in 2002 (49%) to less than two in five (39%) in 2014-15. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people drinking alcohol at levels that cause short term and lifetime risk has also decreased.
The next Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey has commenced with interviewers to visit all states of Australia in urban, regional and remote communities to create a national picture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Shellie Morris, a proud Warduman and Yanyuwa woman and the 2014 NAIDOC National Artist of the Year said “If the health survey knocks on your door, make sure you get involved. Everyone’s story matters. Do it for yourself and do it for your community.”
The survey runs until March 2019 and will collect detailed information about health and health-related actions, and is a key dataset for understanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing. Results will assist in the administration, evaluation and planning of health and social policies, programs and services, including determining the prevalence of specific long-term illnesses and developing more effective nutrition and physical activity programs. Previous results have been used to revise blood pressure test guidelines and promote quit smoking campaigns.
For the first time, this Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survey will include voluntary hearing tests. This information will be of importance as poor hearing can have major impacts on a person’s health and education. The survey also collects a range of information about social well-being.
The first survey results will be available from late 2019 and will be used by a wide range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, health researchers, public health advocates, government, clinicians and community health organisations.