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A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) provides detailed statistics and analysis on the state of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The report, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework: detailed analyses, provides over 2,000 pages of comprehensive analysis against 71 health indicators covering health status and outcomes, determinants of health and health systems performance.

Data from this report was used to produce the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2010 report released earlier this year by the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference.

‘When it comes to health status and outcomes, some significant health gains have been made towards closing the gap in health disadvantage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

‘For example, deaths from avoidable causes among Indigenous Australians declined by 20% between 1997 and 2008 and the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous infant mortality has closed significantly.’

‘But, there are many areas where further improvements are needed to close the gap in health disadvantage. For instance, babies of Indigenous mothers are still twice as likely to be of low birthweight as babies born to non-Indigenous mothers, and Indigenous hospitalisation rates for diabetes were 4 times the rate of other Australians in 2007–08.’

The report looks at 5 domains of determinants of health—environmental factors, socioeconomic factors, community capacity, health behaviours and person-related factors.

‘Recent improvements in health determinants include: a decline in the proportion of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over who are current smokers (52% to 47%); an increase in Indigenous school retention rates from Year 10 to 12 (46% to 50%) and an increase in the employment rate for Indigenous Australians (44% to 54%),’ Dr Al-Yaman said.

‘But there are several areas of health determinants where further work is required, for example, Indigenous mothers smoked during pregnancy at around 3 times the rate of non-Indigenous mothers and the rate of Indigenous imprisonment increased by 11% since 2007.’

Analysis of health system performance shows considerable improvements in some areas, for example, the proportion of Indigenous women attending at least one antenatal session in pregnancy has increased to 97%. However, gaps remain in access to services relative to need for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 27 September 2011

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1146, mob. 0407 068 033

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework: detailed analyses