Falls in Indigenous infant mortality rates, but wide disparities still exist: ABS & AIHW

A joint report released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that there have been some improvements in the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

There were significant falls in mortality rates for Indigenous babies between 1991 and 2005 in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, the only jurisdictions for which data were available for the full period and of sufficient quality to report. There were also falls in the mortality rates of all Indigenous people in Western Australia over the same period.

The report also found improvements in the socio-economic status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including:

  • An increase in Year 12 completion rates from 20% in 2001 to 23% in 2006
  • A decrease in the unemployment rate from 20% in 2001 to 16% in 2006
  • An increase in the rates of home ownership for Indigenous households from 31% in 2001 to 34% in 2006.

Despite these gains, the health status of Indigenous Australians has shown little improvement in recent years, and remains considerably below that of non-Indigenous Australians:

  • Indigenous adults are twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to report their health as fair or poor.
  • Hospitalisation rates are higher for Indigenous Australians, particularly for conditions that are potentially preventable such as diabetes and kidney disease.
  • The mortality rates of Indigenous people in 2001-2005 were almost three times the rate for non-Indigenous people in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, the only jurisdictions for which coverage of Indigenous deaths was deemed sufficient to report.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Indigenous people were half as likely to complete Year 12 as non-Indigenous people.
  • Indigenous adults were more than twice as likely as non-Indigenous adults to smoke regularly.
  • More than half of Indigenous people were overweight or obese.
  • Indigenous people face barriers in accessing health services, in particular primary health care.

Tuesday 29 April 2008

Further details are in (ABS cat. no. 4704.0) available for free download from www.abs.gov.au and www.aihw.gov.au.

Media requests and interviews:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics
    • Jane Kahler, mob. 0447 693 708
    • Justine Boland, mob. 0448 739 581
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
    • Nigel Harding, mob. 0409 307 671
    • Fadwa Al-Yaman, mob. 0407 068 033