Report points to the need for injury prevention to become a top health priority


The recent release of the Incidence and Costs of Injury in Western Australia 2012 report by the Chronic Disease Directorate Department of Health WA indicates that injuries remain one of the most serious public health problems in WA.

A briefing on the report was held on Tuesday March 28 at Grace Vaughan House in Shenton Park to provide key stakeholders with expert analysis of the impact of injury across WA, including health sector costs, long-term care costs, and the impact of injury on paid productivity and quality of life.

The Director, Chronic Disease Prevention Directorate, Public Health Division, Department of Health, Denise Sullivan lead the expert panel and was joined by Winthrop Professor Fiona Wood, Director of the Burns Service of WA and Burn Injury Research Unit of WA, and Dr Delia Hendrie, Senior Lecturer at the School of Public Health at Curtin University.

The report looks at the incidence of injuries across sociodemographic factors, regions, types of injuries and also at the impact of alcohol on injury.

It highlighted disproportionately high rates of injury across Aboriginal and regional populations.

Curtin University’s Dr Delia Hendrie said that there were many proven injury prevention measures currently being implemented across WA.

“Widely implementing them to reduce injuries would be very cost-effective and result in considerable cost savings to the community,” Dr Hendrie said.

The report identified falls as the most common category of unintentional injury across all age groups (costing $2.2 billion), except those in the 15-24 year old group who are most likely to be injured in a transport-related incidence.

Aboriginal people experienced emergency department visits and hospitalisations for injury at more than double the rate compared to non-Aboriginal people.

Alcohol related injuries were estimated to cost $1.9 billion. Alcohol was involved in 17.5% of injury fatalities and 32% of injury-related emergency department visits.

Those living in non-metropolitan areas, particularly the Kimberley, Wheatbelt and Goldfields regions experienced injury rates that were more than double those in the metropolitan areas.

The Injury Control Council of WA Acting Chief Executive, Sandy Lukjanowski, said the report highlighted the need for all levels of government to prioritise injury prevention to reduce the financial burden on the community.

“The high rates of injury for Aboriginal people and also for those in the regional areas reinforces the Injury Control Council of WA’s (ICCWA) renewed focus on injury prevention measures in both those areas and the need for further investment to address the over representation in injury data.”

The report cited evidence that injury is the fourth most common cause of death and the second highest  cause of potential years of life lost.

The Incidence and Cost of Injury in Western Australia 2012 reported approximately 227,000 injury events occurred, which is equivalent to 93 injury events per 1,000 persons in Western Australia. As a result, the associated costs of injury equated to $9.6 billion, with the mean costing of each injury event estimated to be $42,000.