2021 Census shines light on chronic diseases

Stroke Foundation

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its 2021 Census and, for the first time, it has collected information on the number of people living with long-term health conditions and chronic diseases.

Released today, the Census data revealed that more than 8 million people reported having at least one long-term health condition. When asked to report which specific illness they currently experience, Australians reported living with stroke (1.2 per cent), diabetes (6 per cent), cancer (3.7 per cent), heart disease (5

per cent), and kidney disease (1.1 per cent).

These five chronic diseases are among the leading causes of illness, disability, and death in Australia. Stroke Foundation is part of the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance which collaborates to raise awareness of the impact the diseases have.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sharon McGowan, says this figure is not unexpected and further highlights the prevalence of chronic disease and the importance of prevention. “Prevention is key to combatting chronic diseases such as stroke, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease. These diseases share very similar modifiable risk factors including poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity. By raising awareness about risks and investing more in prevention, we can really drive down the level of chronic disease.”

Ms McGowan says while Stroke Foundation’s core mission is to prevent stroke, save lives, and enhance recovery, the actions to prevent stroke can also reduce the risk of other chronic diseases – it’s a win, win situation.

“That’s why we work closely with our colleagues in the heart, cancer, diabetes and kidney health sectors to make a collective impact, with an ultimate goal of reducing the health, economic and social burden these chronic diseases produce.”

Behind every number there is a person, a family and a community living with the impact of chronic disease which affects their ability to work, parent, study and live to their potential. It does not have to be this way”.

While the 2021 Census found that 1.2 per cent of the surveyed population said they live with the impact of stroke, Stroke Foundation’s own data, including its regular audit of hospital records, provides a more detailed analysis and indicates there are approximately 445,000 survivors of stroke in Australia.

Ms McGowan says the addition of chronic disease data to the Census survey will help paint a clearer picture of stroke incidence in Australia for many years to come. “Having another tool to track stroke in Australia is an important way for Stroke Foundation to gather information and use it alongside our own data to inform policy and assist with strategy as we work to reduce the impact of stroke on Australians.”

View the Census chronic disease data table here.

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