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Older people

50 years and over

Wellbeing

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, good health is more than just the absence of disease. It includes physical, social, emotional, cultural, spiritual and ecological wellbeing for both the individual and the community.

Culture

In 2016, 89% (22,200) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over who lived in remote areas identified with a cultural group, compared with 67% (72,700) in non-remote areas (Figure OP 2).

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In 2016, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 78% (103,700) recognised a homeland or traditional country.
  • Those living in remote areas were more likely to recognise a homeland or traditional country (92% or 23,100) than those in non-remote areas (74% or 80,500) (Figure OP 3).
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Language

In 2016, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 11% (10,720) spoke an Indigenous language (including Kriol) as the main language spoken at home.
  • 47% (8,706) in remote and 2% (1,889) in non-remote areas spoke an Indigenous language (including Kriol) as the main language spoken at home.
  • The Northern Territory had the highest proportion of people who spoke an Indigenous language (including Kriol) as the main language spoken at home (66% or 5,328) (Figure OP 4).
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In 2014–15, among Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over:

  • 19% (18,800) spoke an Indigenous language.
  • 21% (20,300) understood an Indigenous language.
  • 4% (4,000) were learning an Indigenous language (Figure OP 5).
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Psychological distress

The 2018–19 NATSIHS estimated psychological distress using the Kessler-5 (K5) measure. More information about the K5 scale can be found on the ABS website.

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

  • 32% (42,300) had experienced high or very high psychological distress in the last 4 weeks.
  • Females (36% or 25,900) were more likely to have experienced high or very high psychological distress than males (27% or 16,300) in the last 4 weeks.
  • 34% (36,100) of people living in non-remotes areas and 27% (6,400) in remote areas had experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in the last 4 weeks (Figure OP 6).
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Stressors

In 2014–15, 65% (63,800) of Indigenous Australians aged 50 and over had experienced personal stressors in the last 12 months.

The most common type of personal stressors experienced were death of family or friend (30% or 29,500), serious illness (19% or 18,300), mental illness (10% or 9,800) and not being able to get a job (8% or 7,600) (Figure OP 7).

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Unfair treatment and racism

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

  • 25% (30,300) had experienced unfair treatment in the last 12 months because they were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
  • Females (28% or 18,500) were more likely to have experienced unfair treatment than males (22% or 12,100).
  • Those living in non-remote areas (27% or 26,500) were more likely to have experienced unfair treatment than those living in remote areas (17% or 3,900) (Figure OP 8).
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