Report reveals Australia's indigenous under disadvantage in health system

13:29, June 04, 2010      

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Australia's indigenous people remain profoundly disadvantaged in a national health system, data released by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council revealed on Friday.

In one health care measure, indigenous performance actually topped the nation.

Ninety percent of Northern Territory indigenous children were immunized, compared with a national average of 82.4 percent and a low of 75.6 percent in South Australia.

This information was compiled to provide baseline data for the government's reforms to the health care system under the National Healthcare Agreement.

Reform Council chairman Paul McClintock said the reports presented some stark findings which the government needed to address.

He said the overwhelming disadvantage of indigenous Australians was an alarming theme which ran through all of the National Agreement reports.

"While Australians have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world, for indigenous Australians the rate is the same now as it was for other Australians in the 1950s," McClintock said in a statement.

The studies compiled data from the commonwealth, six state and two territory governments.

The report said the Australian health care system was generally strong but there was significant scope for improvement.

Indigenous men die 11.5 years younger than non-indigenous men who have an average life expectancy of 79.2 years.

Indigenous women die 9.7 years younger than non-indigenous women whose life expectancy is 83.7.

The indigenous infant mortality rate of 9.7 per 1,000 live births is double the non-indigenous rate, while 44.8 percent of indigenous people smoke, more than double the non-indigenous rate.

The birth rate among indigenous teenaged mothers was 76 per 1, 000 population, five times the non-indigenous rate.

Source: Xinhua


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