11th June, 2015

AIHW report: encouraging signs but gap widening in many areas of Aboriginal health

AIHW Healthy Futures Report Cards Press release

“What this report highlights is that while there are areas such as infant mortality where we are slowly closing the gap, there are areas where there is a lot of work to do – like mental health and incarceration rates. 

“Providing Aboriginal health care for Aboriginal people has also been proven time and time again, to be the health model that makes the biggest gains in closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Such reports as the one released today cause us to renew our call for ensuing Aboriginal health funding is targeted where it will have the most impact for Aboriginal people – in advancing and expanding the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector” 

Matthew Cooke NACCHO CHAIR:

Pictured above meeting recently with Associate Professor Brian Owler, Federal President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA)

Download or view online the 2015 AIHW Report

Australia’s peak Aboriginal health body today called for more health funding to be directed to Aboriginal community controlled health services on the back of a new report that shows a widening gap in cancer rates and mental health issues in Aboriginal people compared to other Australians.

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Chairperson, Matthew Cooke said the 2015 report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reflected encouraging gains in some critical health areas but a growing chasm in other areas that needed to be urgently addressed.

Mr Cooke said the 150 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services around the country continue to make the biggest inroads to improve Aboriginal health and must be supported and expanded if these statistics are to improve.

“What this report highlights is that while there are areas such as infant mortality where we are slowly closing the gap, there are areas where there is a lot of work to do – like mental health and incarceration rates.

“The report again illustrates just how badly we are failing young Aboriginal people. Aboriginal teenagers, our 15-18year olds are five times more likely to take their own lives than other Australians of the same age.

“This is a truly devastating statistic which has huge impacts throughout Aboriginal communities. There needs to be a concerted effort to improve the mental health and social emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people, and concrete Closing the Gap targets introduced to reverse these terrible trends and offer hope to Aboriginal young people. “

Mr Cooke said Aboriginal people also still have a life expectancy at least 10 years less than non-Aboriginal people.

“The report shows that 31 per cent of the health gap is due to socio economic factors – such as employment, education and higher than average levels of poverty.

“There is no quick fix for these issues, however as the largest employer of Aboriginal people in many communities, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisations provide an important means of lifting health and wellbeing in their local communities and breaking the cycle of poverty, incarceration poor mental health and social emotional wellbeing.

“Providing Aboriginal health care for Aboriginal people has also been proven time and time again, to be the health model that makes the biggest gains in closing the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Such reports as the one released today cause us to renew our call for ensuing Aboriginal health funding is targeted where it will have the most impact for Aboriginal people – in advancing and expanding the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector,” Mr Cooke said.