- + Key points: Country of birth
• In 2006, just under one-third (31%) of NSW residents were born overseas and around one in four spoke a language other than English at home. Resident populations born in India, China and Iraq, all grew by 20% or more between 2001 and 2006, as did populations speaking Hindi, Korean, Chinese, Persian, Assyrian and Tamil languages at home.
• Overseas-born people generally have good health, but patterns of some health conditions and health risk factors vary with country of birth.
• Compared with the Australian-born population, people born in some overseas countries have high rates of:
• self-reported current smoking (people born in Lebanon)
• self-reported overweight and obesity (males born in Lebanon; females born in Italy, Lebanon and Greece)
• self-reported diabetes (people born in Italy, Greece, Germany, Lebanon and United Kingdom) and of hospitalisation for diabetes or its complications (people born in Lebanon and the Philippines).
• hospitalisation for coronary heart disease (Fiji, Lebanon, Iraq and Sri Lanka) and cardiac revascularisation procedures (Fiji, Lebanon, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Greece, Indonesia, India and Italy)
• tuberculosis (India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Fiji and Malaysia)
• self-reported psychological distress (people born in Lebanon and Greece).
• Compared with the Australian-born, people born in some overseas countries:
• are more likely to have premature babies (mothers born in Italy, Fiji, the Philippines and New Zealand)
• are less likely to have their first antenatal visit before 20 weeks gestation (mothers born in Lebanon, New Zealand, Fiji, Iraq, Pakistan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines).
• Compared with people born in many overseas countries, people born in Australia:
• are more likely to have premature babies
• have high rates of self-reported risk alcohol drinking
• have high rates of self-reported overweight and obesity.
- + Background: Country of birth
In 2006, just under one-third (31%) of NSW residents were born overseas and one in four (25%) spoke a language other than English at home. The composition and age structure of the overseas-born population reflects patterns of migration. After World War II, there was a large migration of Europeans to NSW, followed by people from the Middle East, mainly from Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. Most recently, migrants have come in large numbers from Asian countries, particularly China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The net overseas migration (that is, the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia) into Australia in the 2008-09 financial year was 298,924, of which NSW received the largest share (30%), closely followed by Victoria (27%).
Burden of disease
In general, overseas-born residents have better health than Australian-born residents. This reflects the ‘healthy migrant effect’, whereby people in good health are more likely to meet eligibility criteria, and to be willing and economically able to migrate. Migrants from many countries have a lower prevalence than Australian-born people of health risk factors such as overweight and obesity and alcohol consumption at risk levels. However, other health risk factors and certain diseases are more prevalent among some country-of-birth groups.
The relative health advantage that migrants have over Australian-born people tends to decrease with length of residence in Australia.
- + Interventions: Country of birth
Local Health Networks-based and statewide multicultural health services in NSW improve access to health care for non-English speaking patients and foster more appropriate health care.