More than eight million Australians have a long-term health condition, with a mental health issue the most common, according to the nation’s 2021 census data, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The latest census was the first to collect information on diagnosed long-term health conditions.
Data shows over two million Australians reported having at least one of the following conditions – mental health (2,231,543), arthritis (2,150,396) or asthma (2,068,020).
Altogether, nearly 4.8 million people reported having one of the 10 long-term health conditions listed on the census form. Over 1.5 million people had two of the health conditions listed and more than 750,000 had three or more. A further one million people had at least one other long-term health condition not listed on the survey.
Census data found that the amount of people with a long-term health condition increased with age. More than three out of every five (62.9%) people aged 65-plus reported having at least one long-term health condition compared with one out of every five (22.1%) of 15–34 year olds.
Meanwhile, women were more likely to report a long-term health condition than men, with 34% having one or more long-term health conditions compared with 30% of men. Males most commonly reported asthma and mental health conditions, while the most commonly reported long-term health conditions reported by women were arthritis and mental health conditions.
Asthma was the most commonly reported health condition among 0–14 year olds, with a notable difference between male children, with 7.4% reporting asthma compared to 5.3% of female children.
Dr David Gruen, Australian Statistician, said having data on long-term health conditions across the whole population for the first time was game-changing.
“This is critical data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is provided for all Australians,” he said.
“Census data will help provide a more detailed picture of Australians’ health. Census data complements existing ABS health surveys by providing additional insights about the communities that require services to support complex health needs.”
Explore the data at Find Census data | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)