Calculating rates of self-reported long-term health conditions from Census 2021

The 2021 Census was conducted on 10 August 2021, however, people could complete the Census between July and September 2021. The scope of the Census is every person present in Australia on Census night residing in private and non-private dwellings, with the exception of:

  • people in Australian external territories (minor islands such as Heard and McDonald Island)
  • foreign diplomats and their families
  • foreign crew members on ships who remain on the ship and do not undertake migration formalities
  • people leaving an Australian port for an overseas destination before midnight on Census Night.

For more information about the 2021 Census see the ABS website about the Census.

The 2021 Census includes a new health topic to capture data about Australians reporting selected long-term health conditions (see Box 4.1). This allows for the analysis of long-term health conditions data at more detailed geographic and sub-population levels than ABS health surveys can support.

This report also presents data for those who had at least one long-term health condition (including any other long-term health conditions) and those who had 2, or 3 or more long-term health conditions. 

‘Age-standardised proportion’ is the hypothetical percentage of people with a long-term health condition that would have been observed if population groups had the same age structure. The population standard used was the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

A limitation of the long-term health condition variables in the 2021 Census is that the data rely on the responses from a single question, unlike the ABS health surveys that have a detailed set of questions to capture the information on the conditions more accurately.

For more information on the purpose, collection method, advantages and limitations of the long-term health conditions in the Census see Comparing ABS long-term health conditions data sources.

Of the 210,959 humanitarian entrants in our cohort who were present in the country at the time of the census, 195,846 had a record on the Census (92.8%). The proportion in the country with a record on the Census was also high for other permanent migrants (92.5%). The response rate in the migrant groups to the long-term health condition question is comparable to the rest of the Australian population (96.5% for humanitarian entrants, 96.7% for other permanent migrants and 91.9% for the rest of the Australian population).