Adapting to the changing profile of Australians’ health needs

Our research is responding to the significant demographic and health status changes in the population.

Our health system is experiencing significant demographic and health status changes in the population, including:

  • Increased prevalence of chronic disease accounting for 87% of deaths, 61% of total disease burden and 37% of hospitalisations
  • 63% of adults (over 11 million) and 28% of children are considered overweight or obese. Unhealthy diets are the biggest contributor to burden of disease in Australia, with more than 99% of all children and 96% of adults not eating the recommended amount of vegetables
  • In 2016, more than 25% of the Australian population was born overseas, and more than 21% spoke a language other than English at home
  • In 2017, 15% of Australians (3.8 million) were aged 65 and over; this proportion is projected to grow steadily over the coming decades
  • Approximately 45% of Australians aged 16–85 experience mental illness in their lifetime
  • 18% of Australians (approximately one in five) have a disability
  • One in 11 people aged 65 and over have dementia
  • Increasing demand for end of life care
  • Emerging vulnerable populations (for example, climate refugees), and public health system impacts associated with climate-related disaster and health impacts

Our research contributes to the national response to these challenges by:

  • Preventing obesity in children by activating healthy communities
  • Creating healthy food environments
  • Generating economic evidence for obesity prevention policies, programs and interventions
  • Exploring ways to improve care for pregnant women with obesity
  • Investigating and optimising end of life care
  • Advancing new models of care for older Australians
  • Working with government to identify the most cost-effective mental health interventions
  • Increasing understanding of early intervention to prevent complex mental health illnesses developing
  • Increasing understanding of organisational systems on employee mental health and well-being
  • Supporting guideline development for diabetes in adults, with an emphasis on the special needs of older people with this condition
  • Increasing understanding of medication-taking behaviours of older people of non-English speaking backgrounds living in low socioeconomic areas
  • Supporting people of non-English speaking backgrounds living with cancer
  • Developing health services aimed at improving the health of patients with chronic cardiovascular disease
  • Developing national guidelines to improve the management of people with chronic heart failure
  • Understanding the health impacts of climate change on vulnerable populations