The available data reveal that the health status of the New South Wales Aboriginal population is much lower than that of other residents of the State.
The mortality of Aborigines living in western New South Wales is around three to 3.5 times that of the total Australian population. The major cause of Aboriginal deaths is disease of the circulatory system, including heart disease, with injuries also making a substantial contribution to the excess mortality experienced by Aborigines.
The greatest differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal death rates is found among young and middle aged adults. The net result of the excess mortality experienced by Aborigines living in western New South Wales is that the expectation of life at birth of Aborigines is much less than that of other residents of New South Wales, around 19 years for males, and 14 years for females.
For Aborigines in New South Wales, birth rates are higher than those of non-Aborigines, particularly for women in the teenage years. The proportion of low birth weight for babies born to Aboriginal women is almost twice that for babies born to non-Aboriginal women.
No routine data are available about Aboriginal infant mortality in New South Wales, but it is likely that the rate of deaths is between two and three times that of the total population.
For Aborigines, the number o( admissions to hospital is under-estimated, but admission rates are likely to be between two and three times that of non-Aborigines in New South Wales.
The magnitude of the health problems experienced by the New South Wales Aboriginal population justifies the special targeting of problems announced recently by the State Minister for Health, Mr Peter Collins (Media Release, 16 August 1990). Clearly, much needs to be done if Aborigines in New South Wales are to achieve a standard of health similar to that of other residents of the State.