Key findings

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

Health status and health outcomes

Areas of improvement

While the health status of Indigenous people in Western Australia is worse than their non-Indigenous counterparts against most indicators, significant health gains have been made in a number of areas:

  • A significant decline in hospitalisation rates for Indigenous people in Western Australia was seen for a number of conditions over the period 2001–02 to 2007–08:
    • injury and poisoning hospitalisations declined by 16%
    • rate of hospitalisation for pneumonia declined by 17%
    • 27% decline was seen for diseases of the ear and mastoid process
    • mental health-related hospitalisations declined by 11%
  • In Western Australia, significant closing of the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mortality was seen for:
    • infant mortality which declined by 50% between 1991 and 2007
    • all-cause mortality rate declined by 32% over the period 1991–2007
    • avoidable mortality rate declined by 11% between 1997 and 2007.

Areas needing further work

Despite making progress in some areas, further improvements need to be made in a number of areas to close the gap in health disadvantage between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Western Australia:

  • Babies of Indigenous mothers are nearly 3 times as likely to be of low birthweight as babies born to non-Indigenous mothers
  • Hospitalisation rate for all major health conditions among Indigenous people was over 3 times the rate of other Australians during the period 2006–2008
  • Diabetes prevalence among Indigenous adults was about 3.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians
  • The incidence rate of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) for Indigenous Australians was around 12 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians
  • Life expectancy at birth among Indigenous males and females was more than 2 years lower than that of other people.

Determinants of health

Areas of improvement

In Western Australia, there have been improvements in several key health determinants in recent years including:

  • A higher proportion of Indigenous Australian adults than non-Indigenous adults was studying currently in 2008 (18% and 16% respectively)
  • In 2004–05, 93% of Indigenous Australians aged 12 years and over reported that they ate vegetables daily, 85% ate fruit daily and 96% drank milk
  • 85% of Indigenous infants aged 0–3 years had ever been breastfed in 2008 compared to 77% of non-Indigenous infants of the same age in Australia.

Areas needing further work

  • In 2007–08, in Western Australia, 67% Indigenous children aged 0–14 years lived in households with a daily smoker, compared with 30% for non-Indigenous
  • The crude imprisonment rate of Indigenous Western Australians increased by 47% between 2000 and 2009
  • Indigenous children aged 0–16 years were more likely than other children in Western Australia to be the subject of child protection substantiation (19 per 1,000 compared to 2 per 1,000)
  • In 2007, Indigenous mothers were 3.8 times as likely as non-Indigenous mothers in Western Australia to smoke during pregnancy.

Health system performance

Areas of improvement

  • Hospitalisation rate for vaccine-preventable conditions declined by 46% for Indigenous people in Western Australia with signs of a gap narrowing between 2001–02 to 2007–08
  • Almost all hospital admitted episodes for Indigenous people (99.3%) and all for other people (100%) in Western Australia occurred in accredited hospitals in 2008–09
  • In 2006–07, the state government was estimated to have spent, on average, $4,224 per Indigenous person compared with $1,599 per non-Indigenous person in Western Australia.

Areas needing further work

  • In Western Australia, the proportion of Indigenous children who were fully immunised at age 1 declined steadily from 2004 to 2009. The proportion immunised at age 2 dropped from 88% in 2005 to 74% in 2009 showing a widening gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children
  • The proportion of women aged 50–69 years participating in the BreastScreen Australia program in Western Australia had decreased by 9% for Indigenous women between 2003–04 and 2007–08
  • Hospitalisation rate for preventable chronic conditions among Indigenous people has increased by 303% over the period 2001–02 to 2007–08, indicating a widening of the gap between Indigenous and other people in Western Australia.