Health Behaviours

Intro | Gender | DiversityReferences


Key statistics on women’s health behaviours are detailed below. Information regarding how health behaviours vary among diverse groups of is also available. For access to a range of sex disaggregated data sources regarding health behaviours, click on the Indicators in the left-hand menu.


  • 8.8% of Victorian female adolescents have an eating disorder [1].
  • Women are more likely than men to use sun protection [2], but girls under 14 years from lower income families are three times less likely to use sun screen, sun glasses or umbrellas than those from higher income families [3].
  • 24% of Australian women participate in organised sport or physical activity, compared to 29% of men [4].
  • 28.9% of Victorian women report drinking alcohol at levels that place them at risk of short-term alcohol-related harm, and young Victorian women aged 14 to17 years are more likely to have risky drinking patterns compared to their male peers [5].
  • A higher prevalence of tobacco use exists in female adolescents aged 14 to 16 than in males of the same age [5].
  • Females aged 18 to 24 years and 55 to 64 years are more likely than males to report lifetime non-medical tranquilliser use [5].
  • Victorian women are more often social gamblers, preferring to gamble on lottos, gaming machines and scratch tickets [6],[7]. Women social gamblers tend to be either 20 to 39 years of age and working fulltime with average annual incomes [6].


Women with disabilities

  • Women with disabilities are less likely to have regular two yearly Pap tests than other women [8]
  • Women with disabilities often face discrimination by healthcare providers and staff [9].
  • Women with disabilities often have difficulty accessing healthcare services or are refused service because of poor accessibility [8]. 23% of women with disabilities have difficulty accessing services [10].

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • A greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women than men report their levels of exercise to be sedentary [11]
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s tobacco use is reportedly 2.5 times the rate of non-Aboriginal women [12]
  • Alcohol consumption by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women occurs most in women aged 25 to 34, where higher rates of alcohol consumption for non-Aboriginal women are found in the 35 to 44 age bracket [13].

Same-sex attracted women

  • Significantly higher rates of risky alcohol use, marijuana and other illicit drug use have been found in young samesex attracted women aged 22-27 years compared to heterosexual women of the same age [14].

top of pageReferences

[1]     Eating Disorders Foundation of Victoria. Key statistics; 2010 [cited 15 December 2010].         

[2]     Australian Bureau of Statistics. Year Book Australia, 2000, Detection of skin, breast and cervical cancers. Australian Bureau of Statistics Cat. No. 1301.0; 2000 [cited 15 December 2010]. 

[3]     Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Health Inequalities in Australia: morbidity, health behaviours, risk factors and health service use. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Cat No. PHE 72; 2006 [cited 15 December 2010].

[4]     Australian Bureau of Statistics. Involvement in organised sport and physical activity, April 2010. Australian Bureau of Statistics Cat. No. 6285.0; 2010 [cited 7 December 2010].  

[5]      Department of Human Services. The Victorian drug statistics handbook 2007: Patterns of drug use and related harm in Victoria. Department of Human Services, State Government of Victoria for the period July 2006 to June 2007; 2009 [cited 7 December 2010].

[6]     Roy Morgan Research. Seventh survey of community gambling patterns and perceptions. Roy Morgan Research for Victoria Casino and Gaming Authority; 2000 [cited 7 December 2010]. 

[7]     Victorian Department of Justice. Victorian longitudinal community attitudes survey 2003. Victorian Department of Justice; 2004 [cited 7 December 2010]. 

[8]     Better Health Channel. Pap Tests and Women with Disabilities. Better Health Channel; 2006 [cited 7 December 2010]. 

[9]     Phillips, L. & Phillips W. Better reproductive healthcare for women with disabilities: a role for nursing leadership. Advances in Nursing Science. 2006; 29(2): 134-151.

[10]     Australian Bureau of Statistics. General Social Survey, Victoria, 2006. Table 4 Personal Characteristics, By Age – Females. 2007. Cat. No. 4159.2.55.001; 2007 [cited 16 December 2010].

[11]     Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performance Framework 2006, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2006 [cited 16 December 2010].

[12]     Australian Bureau of Statistics. Tobacco Smoking: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.: A Snapshot 2004-05. Cat. no. 4722.0.55.004; 2007 [cited 16 December 2010].

[13]     Australian Bureau of Statistics. Alcohol Consumption in Australia: A Snapshot, 2004-05 Australian Bureau of Statistics. Cat. no. 4832.0.55.001; 2006 [cited 16 December 2010].

[14]     Pitts, M., Smith, A., Mitchell, A. & Patel S. Private Lives: A report on the health and wellbeing of GLBTI Australians. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society; 2006 [cited 16 December 2010].