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Australian-first report reveals health of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

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The Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Minister for Indigenous Health Member for Hasluck


31 October 2018


The health and wellbeing of First Australian teenagers and young adults is the focus of a unique new report released today.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing 2018 report reveals specific, national data on 10-24 year olds for the first time.

The positive outcomes highlighted in this Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) research show where concerted and targeted efforts by First Nations families, communities, government and health care organisations are getting results.

Sixty-three per cent of First Australians aged 10-24 assessed their health as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

The number of First Australians aged 15-24 who smoked daily declined from 45 per cent in 2002 to 31 per cent in 2014-15. There was also an increase in young people who never smoked, up from 44 per cent in 2002 to 56 per cent in 2014-15.

In 2012-13, 83 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 10-24 had access to a GP in their local area.

Between 2010 and 2016, the proportion of young people aged 15-24 who had an Indigenous health check (MBS item 715) almost quadrupled, from 6 per cent to 22 per cent.

It is also pleasing to see 61 per cent of our young people reported having a connection to country and 69 per cent were involved in cultural events in the previous 12 months.

As the oldest continuous culture on Earth, we know that maintaining our connection to country and our cultural traditions is a key to our health and wellbeing.

The report also raises some of the challenges faced by young First Australians including 42 per cent who were not engaged in education, employment or training.

Although there has been a decline in smoking rates for young First Australians, one in three people aged between15-24 was still a daily smoker in 2014-15 and 62 per cent of those aged 10-24 had longer-term health challenges such as respiratory or vision problems or mental health conditions.

Clearly there is much work to do to strengthen prevention and early intervention initiatives that will help build strong families and communities.

While the health of babies and younger children creates a crucial foundation for healthier and longer lives, data like this is vital in ensuring a good start continues into adulthood.

It will inform the Closing the Gap refresh and help us to understand what is working well and where we need to focus our energies, so all young First Australians can reap the benefits of better health and wellbeing.

Our Government has committed to spending approximately $10 billion to improve First People’s health over the next decade.

I thank the AIHW and Professor Sandra Eades, Chair of the AIHW Expert Advisory Group and the team of experts for their work on this important and timely report.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Adolescent and Youth Health and Wellbeing 2018 can be found at

Media contact: Nick Way, Media Adviser 0419 835 449

Authorised by Ken Wyatt AM, MP, Member for Hasluck.