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Australia’s health gap is narrowing – but not fast enough


Doug Hendrie


23/04/2018 2:17:49 PM

Focusing on health will not be enough to eliminate the 10-year difference between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, a new report has found.

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While progress has been made on life expectancy, it is not happening fast enough to be achieved by the target year of 2031, according to the new AIHW report. (Image Peter Izzard/OxfamAUS)

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, ‘Closing the Gap: 2017 analysis of progress and key drivers of change’, found that while progress has been made on life expectancy, it is not happening fast enough to be achieved by the target year of 2031.
 
‘[T]he life expectancy gap cannot be eliminated by health initiatives alone,’ the report states.
 
‘Available evidence suggests that key drivers include socioeconomic status and other social determinants, risk factors (for example, tobacco use), availability and cultural competency of health services.’
 
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child mortality is on track to halve by the end of the year, however, despite a jump in deaths in 2015.
 
The report comes 10 years after the Rudd Government launched the Close the Gap campaign.
 
Targets for early childhood education enrolments and Year 12 attainment are all on target. But Australia is not on track in the areas of school attendance and literacy and numeracy, and has gone backwards on indigenous employment.
 
The AIHW report states that a major cause of the gap is the intergenerational consequences of colonisation and its aftermath.
 
Social determinants – such as education, employment, income and housing – are directly affecting all of the targets and account for over a third (34%) of the gap in health outcomes.
 
Remoteness also plays a part. ‘Geographic differences in outcomes within the [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] population are sometimes greater than the national gap between the [Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people] and non-Indigenous populations,’ the report states.
 
The report recommends improved access to healthcare and education, and the pursuing of a lifecourse approach focusing on areas where greatest impact can be achieved, such as early childhood education.



Aboriginal-and-Torres-Strait-Islander-health AIHW close-the-gap





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