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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Health

HEALTH AND PROGRESS

Good health directly, and indirectly, improves the wellbeing of individuals and the broader community. For an individual, good health means a life free of the burdens of illness (pain, social isolation, financial costs, and restrictions to lifestyle choices). For the nation, a healthy population is more able to contribute to society in various ways, such as through participation in employment and in education. A good level of health also brings about reduced direct costs to the community, both in terms of financial and human capital.

High levels of good health can be an indication that the social justice goals of a nation or community have been achieved to some degree. Conversely, evidence of poor health within the community in general, or among specific population groups, is of concern, and may be indicative of wider social problems within those communities.

An indicator describing how long Australians live that simultaneously takes into account the quality of life would be a desirable summary measure of progress. Currently, no such measure exists.

Life expectancy at birth is one of the most widely used and internationally recognised indicators of population health and is used as the headline indicator for the health dimension of progress. It focuses on the length of life rather than on its quality.

The infant mortality rate and people's assessment of their own health status are included as supplementary indicators of progress. Data on potentially avoidable deaths are also included to assess whether life in Australia is getting better.

In addition to the indicators, further information has been provided to show how the health of Australians has changed over time.

For a full list of definitions used in Health, please see the Health glossary.

RELATED PAGES

  • Health glossary
  • Health references
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