Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Improved health for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory

The health of Aboriginal children in remote communities in the Northern Territory is improving, the latest Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory Monitoring Report shows.

The report has been released today by the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon.

It shows a decline of 16 per cent in the anaemia rate for Aboriginal children aged 0-4 in remote parts of the Northern Territory between 2007 and 2011.

The report also shows that the hospitalisation rate for malnutrition for children aged up to 14 years has declined by 56 per cent from 2000-01 to 2010-11.

Ms Macklin said the results were encouraging.

“The Government’s record investment in programs and services to communities as part of the Northern Territory Emergency Response and now Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory is making a difference,” Ms Macklin said.

“There are now more than 200 additional health professionals on the ground in remote communities, a School Nutrition Program to make sure kids are fed and ready to learn, and regular hearing and dental health checks.”

Mr Snowdon said the Government was committed to continuing work to improve people’s lives in the Northern Territory.

“These additional services are helping to tackle the chronic levels of disadvantage in remote Indigenous communities,” Mr Snowdon said.

“The Australian Government is continuing to work with Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to tackle the unacceptable levels of disadvantage too many people still experience.

“We know that sustained change will take time,” he said.

The report also shows a decline in the mortality rate for Indigenous Australians living in the Northern Territory. After adjusting for the different age profile of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, the Indigenous mortality rate has fallen by a significant 17.7 per cent between 2007 and 2011.

The report records data from the 2011 Census which shows the proportion of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory aged 20-24 with a year 12 or equivalent qualification rose from 18.3 per cent in 2006 to 28.7 per cent in 2011. This increase of 10.4 percentage points was greater than in any other state or territory.

The proportion of Aboriginal adults in the Northern Territory with a job (excluding those working as part of CDEP) also rose from 21.3 per cent in 2006 to 30.3 per cent in 2011 – the largest increase across all states and territories.

Other services delivered in the six months to June 2012 include:

  • The Night Patrol service assisted in transporting people in 84,710 incidents in 80 communities to a safe place;
  • 719 hearing checks were conducted and 683 children received follow up services;
  • 1,984 dental services were conducted and 1,489 children received follow up services;
  • About 3,080 breakfasts and 4,600 lunches were provided each day across 73 communities through the School Nutrition Program;
  • 306 placements of short-term health workers; and
  • 222 new primary health care servicepositions continued or were established in the Northern Territory.

“While the monitoring report shows improvements to the lives of Aboriginal people living in remote communities in the Northern Territory, the situation remains critical and more needs to be done to achieve the change we all want to see,” Ms Macklin said.

School attendance for students in remote communities remains unacceptably low at 60 per cent.

“The $3.4 billion Stronger Futures package is the Government’s commitment to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory to work with them over the next ten years to build a stronger future and drive positive change,” Ms Macklin said.

To view the full report, please visit: