National Women's Health Policy

Chapter Two: Key health challenges for Australian women today and into the future

Page last updated: 07 February 2011

Australian women’s life expectancy at birth has shown dramatic improvements over the past century, increasing from 59 years in the early 1900s to around 87 in 2007.1 There have been remarkable health gains overall for women in areas such as rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer and a reduction in the number of women smoking. However, many issues such as obesity and mental health remain significant problems for women, and the burden of disease associated with dementia in women is estimated to double in the next 20 years.2

This chapter provides an overview of the health of Australian women and highlights those health priorities and targeted conditions that will form the greatest challenges over the next two decades for the health system, policy makers, health professionals and individual women.