The Health Status of Young Australians 15-24 years Essay Sample
In Australia, ‘young’ refers to people aged 15-24 years. Thus, in this essay, ‘young people’ and ‘young Australians’ pertain to those in the said age bracket, unless stated otherwise. These young people reached over 2.8 million in number, roughly 14% of the Australian population, in 2005 (see Table 1 in the Appendix). Generally, they were in good health conditions. Mortality was low, and is continuously decreasing. Morbidity and disability were also low. (AIHW, 2005, xiv) When asked, young Australians said that they were healthy. In Australia’s National Health Survey (NHS) in 2004-05, 70% rated their health either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’; 24% rated ‘good’; and only 7% rated either ‘fair’ or ‘poor’. But these were not true for those in the rural areas, especially the Indigenous. Only 59% of Indigenous young Australians rated their health as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’, and 9% gave a rating of ‘fair’ or ‘poor’. (AIHW, 2006, p.202)
Despite the typically good health of young people, there are threats to its permanence. 60% of male and 72% of female young Australians claimed they had long-term sicknesses, like hay fever, allergic rhinitis, short-sightedness, asthma, back pain and disc disorder. For indigenous young people, the most common were respiratory diseases and eye diseases. Another threats were sexually transmitted infections, the most common of which was Chlamydia (see Table 2), and disabilities (9% of young Australians). Cancer was rare among young Australians ( 0.021% for 15-19 years old and 0.041% for 20-24), though it was one of the leading causes of their deaths. (AIHW, 2006, p.205)
Deaths of young people in Australia were often caused by injuries and poisoning (see Table 3). 70% were males; 11.8% of the males and 12.4% of the females were Indigenous (see Table 4). Injuries were primarily caused externally: transport accidents (caused 32% of deaths) and intentional self-harm (20%). Another leading cause of death of young Australians was malignant neoplasm, a cancer, at 9%. Moreover, In Remote areas, mortality was 3-4 times of that in Major Cities. (ABS, 2007)
The health of an individual is affected by the interaction of his body, lifestyle and environment. Health determinants refer to, explain, and predict tendency in factors that increase or decrease the status of health of an individual or a population. Environmental factors include physical, chemical and biological conditions, such as food and animal vectors and reservoirs of disease. Almost 980,000 Australian young people suffer from gastroenteritis, and other food-borne infectious illnesses, every year. Some also suffered from dengue (27 youth cases in 2004-05), Ross River virus disease (261 cases), and Barmah Forest virus disease (176 cases).
Health is also affected by socioeconomic factors, such as work and income; 19% of the mortality burden for males and 12% for females were associated with socioeconomic disadvantages. There are also knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that influence an individual’s health. According to Gill & Taylor (2004), 15 of Australian youth are not physically active because of the way they felt about their body. Also, tobacco smoking caused 7.9% of young Australians’ health burden, along with low level of physical activity (6.7%), alcohol consumption (5.3% for males and 2.2 for females), inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption (85.7%), and sexual malpractices (0.5%). It is also important to note important risk factors: overweight, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol (6.1%). (AIHW, 2006, p.141-187)
The measures mentioned above are measured scientifically and systematically. Indices of well-being measure the variables that affect the health of a population. According to Romanow (2005), these can be measured by: (i) distinguishing between good things (like clean air) and bad things (like pollution), (ii) characterizing socioeconomic status, (iii) assessing educational achievements, economic security and social equity, and (iv) evaluating investments in health promotions and expenditures on illness treatments.
Morbidity can be defined as the deprivation of health. Reports (IP 2000) state that it can be measured by: (i) the number of individuals affected, (ii) the number of occurrences of sickness, (iii) the duration of illness, and (iv) severity of illness. They also discussed some measures of morbidity, including Point Prevalence (the number of cases existing at a specific point of time), Period Prevalence (the number of cases or the number of occurrences during a specific time interval), Duration of Morbidity, and Incidence (the number of occurrences or the number of cases having onset in a specific period of time).
Mortality is a being’s vulnerability to death, while mortality rate is the number of deaths in a population. According to Prof. Trovato (2006), mortality can be examined through: (i) crude death rate (the number of deaths in a given time interval divided by the population at the middle of the interval), (ii) age-specific death rate (the number of deaths to persons of a given age in a given time interval divided by the population in that same age category at the middle of the interval), (iii) cause-specific death rate (the number of deaths to persons due to a specific cause divided by the mid-year population; see Table 5), (iv) standardized death rate (see Table 6), and (v) life expectancy at any age.
Wellbeing, morbidity, and mortality; measuring, analyzing and interpreting these are useless if nothing is accomplishment for improvement. From birth until death, it is indeed the government’s responsibility to act for the welfare of the people.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2007, Causes of Death, Australia, 2005, Cat. no. 3303.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, viewed 23rd April, 2007, AusStats, <http://www.abs.gov.au>.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2005, Australia’s Welfare 2005, AIHW cat. no. AUS 65, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2006, Australia’s Health 2006, AIHW cat. no. AUS 73, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra.
Indian Pediatrics 2000, Measures of Mortality and Morbidity in Children, Indian Pediatrics, Delhi, India, viewed 23rd April, 2007,
Romanow, R 2005, ‘The Canadian Index of Wellbeing: Taking Measure of the Things that Count’, paper presented to the United Ways of Canada National Conference: Mission in Movement, Toronto, Canada, 6 May.
Trovato, F 2006, ‘Measures of Mortality’, lecture presented to the Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, 11 October.