Key findings

A summary of the key findings under each tier are outlined below as well as in a Table format in page xi for ease of reference.

Health status and health outcomes

Areas of improvement

  • The health status of Indigenous people in Victoria is worse than their non-Indigenous counterparts against most health status indicators with the exception of hospitalisations for ear disease among Indigenous children.
  • The hospitalisation rates for diseases of the ear and mastoid process among Indigenous children aged 0–14 continued to be below those among other children over the period 2004–05 to 2007–08.

Areas needing further work

Despite making progress in some areas, Indigenous Australians in Victoria are lagging behind in many areas where further improvements need to be made to close the gap in health disadvantage:

  • Between 2006 and 2008, live-born babies born to Indigenous mothers were twice as likely to be of low birthweight as those born to non-Indigenous mothers (12.9% compared with 6.3%).
  • During the period 2004-05 to 2007-08, the hospitalisation rate for Indigenous people increased by 38%, equal to an average yearly increase in the hospitalisation rate of 28.8 per 1,000.
    – The hospitalisation rate for injury and poisoning among Indigenous people increased by 14%.
    – the hospitalisation rate for circulatory disease showed an increase of 62% for Indigenous people.
    – Over the same period, the hospitalisation rate for mental health-related conditions among Indigenous people showed no significant decline, unlike for other Australians.
  • Between 1991 and 2008, there was a 324% increase in the incidence rate of end-stage renal disease (ERSD) among Indigenous people, equal to an average yearly increase of 2.5 cases per 100,000.

Determinants of health

Areas of improvement

Some improvements have been made in key health determinants in recent years in Victoria:

  • In 2008, 25% of Indigenous people aged 15 and over were studying.
  • From 2005-06 to 2008-09, the rate of Indigenous children who were subjects of child protection substantiations decreased from 63.0 to 48.3 per 1,000 children.
  • In 2004-05, 97% of Indigenous people aged 12 and over reported they ate vegetables daily, 89% ate fruit daily and 96% drank milk daily, most commonly whole milk.
  • In 2008, 80% of Indigenous infants aged 0-3 had been breastfed.

Areas needing further work

Despite significant improvements as mentioned above, further improvements need to be made in a number of areas to close the gap in health disadvantage:

  • In 2007–08, 65% of Indigenous children aged 0–14 lived in households with a daily smoker, compared with 30% for non-Indigenous children.
  • The crude imprisonment rate of Indigenous people in Victoria increased by 48% between 2000 and 2009.
  • The proportion of Indigenous students achieving the educational benchmarks in years 3, 5 and 7 literacy was much lower than that of non-Indigenous children.
  • In 2008, 83% of Indigenous adults, their family members or friends had experienced at least one stressor in the last 12 months compared with 48% of non-Indigenous adults.
  • The mean equalised gross weekly household income for Indigenous adults was $635 per week in 2008, compared with $957 for non-Indigenous adults.

Health system performance

Areas of improvement  

There have been improvements in health system performance in recent years including:

  • In 2004-05, more Indigenous people aged 65 and over had been vaccinated against influenza than non-Indigenous people of the same age (86% and 75% respectively), and against pneumonia (52% and 48% respectively).
  • In 2006–07, the state government was estimated to have spent, on average, $3,312 per Indigenous person compared with $1,537 per non-Indigenous person.
  • In 2006-08, almost all hospital admitted episodes for Indigenous and other people occurred in accredited hospitals (99.9% and 99.7% respectively).

Areas needing further work

Further improvements are needed for some areas including:

  • The proportion of Indigenous children who were fully immunised at age 1 decreased by 6% between 2001 and 2009.
  • The proportion of Indigenous women aged 50-69 who participated in the BreastScreen Australia program decreased by 20%.
  • Indigenous people hospitalised for potentially preventable conditions increased:
    – the rate of hospitalisations of Indigenous people for preventable acute conditions increased by 24% between 2004-05 and 2007-08, and
    – over the same period, the rate of preventable chronic disease hospitalisation rate among Indigenous people increased by 19%
    – the rate of hospitalisations for vaccine-preventable conditions increased by 81% for Indigenous people over the same period.