Second National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2010 - 2013

5.2 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Page last updated: July 2010

In 2006, there were more than 500 000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in Australia, approximately 2.5% of the total population. Approximately 40% of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is less than 15 years of age, compared to 19% of the non-Indigenous population. Twenty–five per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples live in remote or very remote areas, again in contrast to less than 3% of the non-Indigenous population (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006) and they are more mobile. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have less access to preventive and therapeutic health interventions than do other Australians, as well as to other determinants of health such as education, housing and employment.25

Although incomplete data are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, the rates of bacterial STIs are much higher in these populations than in the non-Indigenous population. Data from jurisdictions where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status is generally recorded show chlamydia notifications have increased from 2004 to 2008. Furthermore, the age standardised rates for chlamydia and gonorrhoea are many times greater than those for non-Indigenous populations. Age standardised rates of infectious syphilis are also greater in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.26

In the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, some sub-populations require targeted interventions based on available surveillance data, perceived risk and service availability. These include young people, people who live in rural and remote areas, those in prison or juvenile detention and gay men and sistergirls. Local data will define other priority subgroups for targeted interventions. The Third National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2010–2013 prioritises young people based on surveillance and behavioural data and recommends improvements in national surveillance data for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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25 Australian Bureau of Statistics and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2005, The Health and Welfare of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Government of Australia, accessed 28 August 2009, <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/index.cfm/title/10172>.
26Indigenous sexual health and HIV promotion, <http://www.public.health.wa.gov.au>.