-- Death rates among Aboriginal children are nearly three times higher than non-indigenous infants, a study of Australian health trends revealed today.
The damning figures also show that 70% of the Aboriginal population, who number almost 500,000, die before the age of 65, compared with 20% of non-indigenous Australians. The average life expectancy for Aboriginal men is 59, compared with 77 for non-indigenous males, according to the report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
While researchers found a fall in infant mortality among Aborigines in some areas, the overall findings paint a bleak picture of the state of indigenous health. The report says poor nutrition, obesity, smoking, alcohol and substance abuse are the major causes of death and illness.
Overcrowded housing, unsafe drinking water and poor sanitary conditions were also contributory factors, the study found. The most common causes of death among the adult population are diabetes, heart disease, cancer and violence.
The latest figures, which reveal little has changed despite years of government funding designed to improve the health and living conditions of Aborigines, prompted Australia's health minister, Tony Abbott, to call for a return to interventionist methods. --