Report raises questions about remote road safety

A new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) examines transportation-related injuries and deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory.

'Approximately 60% of the Indigenous population of Australia live in these four jurisdictions,' said Associate Professor James Harrison of the AIHW's National Injury Surveillance Unit based at Flinders University in Adelaide.

The report, Injury of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people due to transport 1999-00 to 2003-04, showed that Indigenous Australians had more than twice the rate of fatal injury in transport accidents, 26 per 100,000 population compared with 11 per 100,000 population for non-Indigenous Australians.

The rate of non-fatal injury for Indigenous Australians was 1.3 times that for non-Indigenous Australians, 328 per 100,000 compared with 252 per 100,000 population for non-Indigenous Australians.

More than half of those fatally injured were car occupants (52% for Indigenous Australians and 55% for non-Indigenous Australians). Over a third of Indigenous fatalities were pedestrians (35%) compared with 13% of non-Indigenous fatalities. Only 3% of Indigenous fatalities were motorcyclists whereas 13% of non-Indigenous fatalities were motorcyclists.

Among the seriously injured, almost half of Indigenous Australians were car occupants (compared with 34% per cent of non-Indigenous Australians), 17% were pedestrians (compared with 7% for non-Indigenous Australians) and 8% were motorcyclists (compared with 24% for non-Indigenous Australians).

Rates of fatal and serious injury due to transport accidents were higher for males than for females regardless of ethnicity.

For all Australians, fatal and serious injury rates were highest for young adults (15-24 years). Rates were higher for Indigenous Australians than for non-Indigenous Australians at most ages, especially from about 30 to 50 years of age.

The proportion of Indigenous people dying from transport injury rose as the location of the accident became more remote. The proportion was 3% in major cities, but rose to 22% in remote areas, and soared to 62% in very remote areas. Similarly, the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders among serious injury cases ranged from 2% in major cities to 13% in remote areas and 38% in very remote areas.

For both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the rates of hospitalised and fatal land transport injuries tended to be lowest for people living in major cities and higher for people living in regional and remote areas.

24 May 2007

Further information: Associate Professor James Harrison, AIHW, tel. 08 8201 7602

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.