We have all heard about the 17 year gap in expected lifespan between Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and many of us know that the Federal Government, government agencies and other organisations are working in a number of areas to reduce that gap. However, do we stop to think about what this statistic really means to Aboriginal people and their communities?
Issues such as:
- Few grandparents
- Sick and disabled adults with 47% of Aboriginal people having a disability by the time they reach 18 years of age
- Children are 3 times more likely to die before the age of 15 than non-Indigenous children
- The leading causes of death among Indigenous people are cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease
Rates of illness are also alarming:
- Around half of all Aboriginal children suffer from reoccurring ear, eye and skin infections which impacts their ability to learn due to discomfort
- Indigenous people are 3.4 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to report having some form of diabetes
- Indigenous people are hospitalised at 11 times the rate of other people for renal failure, often due to diabetes
- Indigenous people die from diabetes at almost seven times the rate of other Australians
- The proportion of babies of low birth weight born to Indigenous women is twice that of babies born to non-Indigenous women (12.3% v 5.9%)
- Indigenous people are hospitalised for mental and behavioural disorders at almost twice the rate of non-Indigenous people
- Indigenous people die from intentional self-harm at 2.5 times the rate of non-Indigenous people.
Poor nutrition is cited as the number one contributing factor to Indigenous health issues with diabetes and many other diseases and illnesses often improved or even prevented by good nutrition, particularly a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Access to fresh fruits, vegetables and/ or bush-tucker is a major constraint to improved nutrition. Access issues include:
- Cultural access to western fruits and vegetables
- Physical access due to remoteness and poor soil and climatic conditions
- Lack of education and skills transfer
* Statistics provided from Australian Bureau of Statistics and Reconciliation Australia.