Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Report on the health and welfare of Indigenous Australians

Data released today on the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians shows that Indigenous children are over represented in the child protection system with the rate of Indigenous children on care and protection orders six times the rate of other Australian children.

This report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveals some shocking facts including the plight of many Indigenous children.

The Australian Government is determined to tackle these unacceptable levels of Indigenous disadvantage. We are working across all areas – housing, education and health to close the gap. We’re determined to create the opportunities and conditions to provide real jobs – essential to building a secure, independent future for Indigenous Australians.

We are taking the lead on the development of a National Child Protection Framework working with state and territory governments.

I am concerned that while this report finds some improvement in Indigenous health and welfare especially in the area of infant mortality in Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, there is serious and entrenched disadvantage in areas of health, education and employment.

The report finds:

  • the majority of Indigenous Australians die before reaching the age of 65 years;
  • between 2003 and 2006, 250 new cases of Acute Rheumatic Fever- a disease almost unknown in developed countries – were reported in the Top End and Central Australia;
  • hospitalisation for kidney dialysis is 14 times the rate of non-Indigenous people;
  • 50 per cent of Indigenous adults are smokers and two thirds start smoking before they turn 18;
  • more than 100,000 Indigenous people live in sub-standard, overcrowded housing; and
  • 20 per cent of Indigenous people living in remote areas reported no usual daily intake of fruit while 15 per cent reported no usual daily intake of fresh vegetables.

The Government is committed to promoting economic participation, reducing welfare dependency, better engaging Indigenous people and strengthening communities to tackle Indigenous disadvantage.