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Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) consists of both urban and semi-rural areas, covering almost 774 square kilometres. The LHD is responsible for providing primary and secondary health care for people living in the Auburn, Blacktown, The Hills Shire, Holroyd and Parramatta Local Government Areas (LGAs) and tertiary care to residents of the Greater Western Region.
The estimated resident population of WSLHD in 2011 is 832,766 (Table 1), which includes an Aboriginal community (1.6 percent). The Dharug and Eora/Dharawal people were the two main tribes who inhabited the area before the arrival of European settlers and convicts. The number of people identifying as Indigenous in the Census has been increasing in recent years. The figure was estimated at 13,331 in 2011 although this is widely regarded as an underestimate. The larger indigenous communities reside in Blacktown. The indigenous population is younger than the wider WSLHD community with 55.1 percent under 25 years of age.
The largest proportions of pre-school aged children (less than 5 years) in 2011 are in the Blacktown and Auburn LGAs (8.9 percent and 8.5 percent). At the other end of the spectrum, the LGAs of Parramatta (8.9 percent) and Holroyd (8.6 percent) have the highest proportion of older residents aged 70 years and over. In the period 2011 to 2021, the proportion of the population aged less than 10 years is expected to remain steady at approximately 14.8 percent, while the proportion of older residents will increase from seven to nine percent.
Births to existing residents contributed 13,811 persons in 2009, with the highest total fertility rate occurring in Holroyd and Blacktown (2.3 per woman) followed by Auburn with 2.2 per woman. Continued major land releases, greater density of dwellings in older areas and new arrivals of refugees and other migrants all contribute to population growth. In 2010, WSLHD received 6,479 permanent arrivals. Thirty-one percent of arrivals entering under the Humanitarian visa subclass in NSW settled in WSLHD.
WSLHD is culturally diverse with almost 40 percent of the population reported as being born overseas in the 2006 Census. The most frequently reported countries of birth were UK, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Philippines, Fiji, Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.
Life expectancy at birth in the LGAs ranged from 76.7 and 81.1 for men and 81.5 and 84.9 for women. The increasing populations of older people, culturally diverse communities and new arrivals warrant consideration of the implications for health care planning, service delivery and access to specialised care.
Based on the Socio-Economic Indexes for Area (SEIFA) 2006, Index of Socio-economic Disadvantage, WSLHD has LGAs at both ends of the spectrum. Among the most disadvantaged areas in NSW, scoring well below the 1,000 average was Auburn (922), Characterised by low income and educational attainment, and high levels of unemployment. At the opposite end scoring over 1,000 and suggesting least disadvantage is The Hills Shire (1,116).
The age standardised death rates for WSLHD residents for the five year period 2003 to 2007 were comparable to the state average for males (738.4 and 750.4 per 100,000 respectively) and significantly higher for females (504.2 and 501.7 per 100,000 respectively). The major causes of death were circulatory diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases and injury and poisoning. Among residents aged less than 75 years, the premature death rate was significantly lower among males in WSLHD compared to NSW (298.2 and 311.8 per 100,000 respectively). The rate among females in WSLHD was comparable to the state average (180.2 and 180.7 per 100,000 respectively).
Table 1. Demographics of residents in Western Sydney Local Health District
Source: NSW Health Population Projection Series 1, 2009 (HOIST), Centre for Epidemiology and Research, NSW Department of Health and CDATA 2001, 2006
Compiled by Epidemiology, SWAHS, April 2011
1. People speaking a language other than English
2. Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage