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Older people

50 years and over

Health services

To determine whether the health system is meeting the needs of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over, it is important to understand access and use of health services. This section outlines availability and use of health services and specialist homelessness services.

Health service availability

In 2018–19, 85% (115,500) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over had access to a doctor/general practitioner (GP) in their local area (other than from Aboriginal Medical Service).

The health service available to most Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over in non-remote areas (93% or 101,700) was doctor/GP (other than from Aboriginal Medical Service). Aboriginal Medical Service was the health service available to most Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over in remote areas (89% or 22,800) (Figure OP 24).

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Health service use

In 2018–19 among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over: 

  • 56% (76,200) used a health service in the last 2 weeks.
  • The most common health action taken was GP consultation (40% or 54,300) followed by consultation with other health professional (23% or 30,900) and visit to casualty/emergency/outpatients/day clinic (12% or 15,600) (Figure OP 25).
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Health checks

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive an annual health check, designed specifically for Indigenous Australians, and funded through Medicare (Department of Health 2016).

In 2018–19, 37% (51,061) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over had an Indigenous-specific health check.

Among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over, females (39% or 28,489) were more likely to have a health check than males (35% or 22,572) (Figure OP 26).

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Hospitalisations

In 2016–17, the hospitalisation rate (including dialysis care) among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over was 1,863 per 1,000 population (236,439 hospitalisations). Of these hospitalisations, 64% were related to care involving dialysis.

Excluding care involving dialysis, the leading causes of hospitalisations were:

  • Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings (80 per 1,000 population, or 10,148 hospitalisations).
  • Diseases of the circulatory system (73 per 1,000 population, or 9,233 hospitalisations).
  • Diseases of the respiratory system (72 per 1,000 population, or 9,092 hospitalisations) (Figure 27).
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