MILDURA residents are more likely to have a range of significant long-term health conditions than the Victorian or Australian population as a whole.
The revelation emerged this week in the release of the 2021 Census, that for the first time asked households about their diagnosed conditions.
Residents in the Mildura Local Government Area (LGA) reported higher rates of asthma (10 per cent compared to the Victorian average of 8.4 per cent); mental health conditions (9.9 per cent to 8.8 per cent); arthritis (9.7 per cent to 8 per cent); diabetes (5.5 per cent to 4.7 per cent); heart disease (4.8 per cent to 3.7 per cent); cancer (3.1 per cent to 2.8 per cent); lung conditions (2.2 per cent to 1.5 per cent); kidney disease (1.3 per cent to 0.9 per cent), and stroke (1.1 per cent to 0.9 per cent).
Mildura was also above the national averages for these conditions.
Overall, 54.7 per cent of Mildura residents had no long-term health conditions, below a 61 per cent rate Victoria-wide and 60.2 per cent Australia-wide.
The share of people selecting three or more of the conditions was 4.1 per cent – well above 2.9 per cent in Victoria and three per cent in Australia.
Similar results across the same conditions were recorded among Wentworth Shire residents.
Australian Statistician David Gruen, the Australian Bureau of Statistics agency head, said it was the first time data on long-term conditions had been collected across the whole population.
“This is critical data to inform planning and service delivery decisions about how treatment and care is provided for all Australians,” Dr Gruen said.
Sunraysia’s population appeared on the cusp of breaking the 70,000 barrier, with the combined tally of the Mildura and Wentworth shires, plus Robinvale and Euston, totalling 68,987 residents.
The 2021 Census was taken as much of the country was in lockdown, which may have had some impact on the results.
Wentworth Shire outpaced its Mildura equivalent for population growth with a 9.7 per cent jump, compared to 5.7 per cent.
Gol Gol grew by 28 per cent, from 1523 residents to 1956.
In Robinvale, where it has long been said the Census under-reports the town’s true population, there was 12.9 per cent growth after a push to engage those reluctant to fill the survey out – with 3740 the total.
Within the Mildura municipality, Irymple’s population jumped 12 per cent to 7700, while the portion of Mildura south of Fourteenth Street was up 12.7 per cent to 16,408.
Red Cliffs and Merbein each grew by just over four per cent, to 6138 and 4976, respectively.
The portion of Mildura north of Fourteenth Street lost 41 residents to drop to 18,027, while the rest of the LGA gained six residents, going up to 3726.
Pressures being faced by renters was laid bare, with average rents in the Mildura municipality up by more than a quarter in just five years – from $210 to $265.
In 2016, 89.4 per cent of renting households reported spending less than 30 per cent of their income on rent payments.
By last year that was true for only 59.2 per cent.
The Census also highlighted the region’s challenge in keeping young people.
Mildura’s cohort aged 15 to 19 in 2016 was 6.5 per cent of the population, above the Victorian average of six per cent.
Five years older, it seemed many had moved on – the 20 to 24 bracket was 5.6 per cent of the local population, while Victoria-wide it was 6.3 per cent.
But the flow appeared to change as people get older, with those in each of the age ranges from 25 to 44 last year growing from the 20 to 39 cohort in 2016.