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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework - Summary report 2023


Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause serious health complications. Some types of diabetes can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle – getting enough exercise, having a healthy diet, and not smoking. Diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and can lead to kidney damage. Often, people have all three of these conditions (AIHW 2015a).

In 2018–19, about 13% of Indigenous adults reported having diabetes or high sugar level (65,300). Based on age-standardised rates, in 2018–19, Indigenous adults were 2.8 times as likely to report having diabetes or high sugar levels as non-Indigenous adults (17% compared with 6.1%).

The prevalence of diabetes/high sugar levels increases with age, and is higher among Indigenous Australians in remote areas than in non-remote areas (Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19: Diabetes/high sugar levels among Indigenous Australians, by remoteness, 2018–19

Diabetes/high sugar levels, by ageDiabetes/high sugar levels, by remoteness and sex

Source: Measure 1.09, Table D1.09.2 – ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey; Table D1.09.14 – AIHW and ABS analysis of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey 2018–19.

In the 5-year period 2015–2019, 7.3% (1,124) of total deaths of Indigenous Australians were due to diabetes. The proportion of total deaths due to diabetes was higher for Indigenous females (608 deaths or 8.7% of all Indigenous female deaths) than Indigenous males (516 or 6.1%).

Between July 2017 and June 2019, there were 7,664 Indigenous Australians hospitalised with a principal diagnosis of diabetes, corresponding to a rate of 4.6 hospitalisations per 1,000 population. Based on age-standardised rates, Indigenous Australians were hospitalised due to diabetes at a rate nearly 4 times that for rate of non-Indigenous Australians (6.1 compared with 1.8 per 1,000 population).

Over the decade from 2010 to 2019, the age-standardised death rate from diabetes for Indigenous Australians did not change significantly. There was also no significant change in the age-standardised rate of deaths due to diabetes among non-Indigenous Australians. However, death rates from diabetes remain relatively high for Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians, with Indigenous Australians dying from diabetes at about 4.7 times the rate (age-standardised) of non-Indigenous Australians in the period 2015–2019 (data from NSW, Qld, WA, SA and NT combined).

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