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Health risk factors

Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is a major cause of cancer, liver disease, brain damage, cardiovascular disease and injuries from accidents and violence (AIHW 2020a).

In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over:

  • 30% (160,000) had either abstained from alcohol in the previous 12 months or never consumed alcohol at all.
  • Females (37% or 98,500) were more likely than males (24% or 62,000) to have either abstained from alcohol in the previous 12 months or never consumed alcohol at all.
  • Those aged 15–17 were most likely to have either abstained from alcohol in the previous 12 months or never consumed alcohol at all (72% or 35,700).
  • 41% (41,900) of those living in remote areas had either abstained from alcohol in the previous 12 or never consumed alcohol at all, compared to 27% (118,000) living in non-remote areas (Figure HR 5).
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Single occasion risk

Consuming more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion is unsafe according to the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) guidelines. In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over in the last 12 months:

  • 50% (268,900) had consumed more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion.
  • Males (62% or 157,400) were more likely to have consumed more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion than females (41% or 111,600).
  • The proportion of people having consumed more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion was highest among those aged 18–24 (65% or 68,200) and 25–34 (62% or 72,600) (Figure HR 6).

Lifetime risk

Based on the 2009 NHMRC guidelines, the proportion of people who consumed more than 2 standard drinks per day on average over the last week, is used as an indicator of drinking that will result in risks to health over the long term (note: the limit in the NHMRC guidelines was revised from 12 to 10 standard drinks per week in December 2020). In 2018–19, among Indigenous Australians aged 15 and over in the last week:

  • 18% (98,700) had consumed more than 2 standard drinks per day on average.
  • A higher proportion of males (28% or 72,300) than females (10% or 26,600) had consumed more than 2 standard drinks per day on average.
  • A higher proportion of 45–54 year olds (23% or 18,800) than of younger people had consumed more than 2 standard drinks per day on average (Figure HR 6).
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