This report updates and extends information available about the health and well-being of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It uses the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Census of Population and Housing, Community Housing and Infrastructure Needs Survey, and National Health Survey, all collected during 2001. It also incorporates improved administrative data in a number of areas to provide a current statistical overview of the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians.

The focus is generally at a national level. Therefore the analysis, comparisons and trends that are highlighted here and in the specific chapters will not capture stories about health and well-being that are particular to any community or geographic area. Some information of this kind has been chosen for presentation in boxed text inserted at appropriate locations. This is to encourage users to look beyond the data and to see the broad-based statistics as benchmark information, not the full picture.

Some of the gaps that users will find in this report are due to limitations that remain in the data. Identification of persons of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin in data collections remains incomplete and is often of unknown quality. While this point is drawn out comprehensively in Chapter 11 and need not be laboured here, it is important for readers to understand that much of what is reported may represent under-estimates of numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.