Closing the Gap is a national strategy that aims to reduce Indigenous disadvantage in health, education and employment. The strategy has a number of targets, including improving life expectancy, child mortality rates, early childhood enrolments, school attendance and employment outcomes. Central to these targets is the recognition that good health is closely associated with the socioeconomic, environmental and behavioural determinants of health.

Life expectancy is an important measure of the health status of a population—currently, there is a gap of around 10 years in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Although the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians has improved slightly in recent years, progress will need to accelerate if the target to close the gap with non-Indigenous Australians by 2031 is to be met.

Between one-third and one-half of the health gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are associated with differences in socioeconomic position such as education, employment and income. Differences in social determinants can also explain a large part of the differences in health status within the Indigenous population. For example, Indigenous Australians who are in the lowest income group, have a lower level of education, or who are unemployed, are less likely to be in 'excellent' or 'very good health' than Indigenous Australians in the highest income group.

Although Indigenous Australians still face significant challenges, there have been some big improvements in recent years, including significants falls in the overall mortality rate and proportion of current smokers, and improvements in Year 12 completion rates, overcrowding, homelessness and home ownership.

The AIHW produces a range of reports on the health and welfare of the Indigenous population that provide data for monitoring improvements, and for highlighting areas where disadvantages remain. These reports cover areas such as the burden of disease, cardiac care and eye health, as well as Indigenous identification in health and welfare data sets. The AIHW also continues to monitor and report on Indigenous health and wellbeing through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework dynamic data display, Australia’s health and Australia’s welfare and other key reports. For more information, see 'Links & other information'.

In addition, the AIHW also provides information and resources to improve the quality and availability of data on Indigenous Australians by improving Indigenous identification in key health and welfare data sets.