The impact of socioeconomic status and geographic location on Indigenous mortality in Australia, 1997-99

Occasional Paper No. 1

Published: 2004

Australia's Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders have the poorest health of any group in Australia. This has been the case for many years. Given that Australia has not made the advances in Indigenous health achieved in comparable countries (such as Canada, the United States and New Zealand), it is likely to be the case for some time.

This report presents data describing one outcome of that poor health, namely premature deaths of Indigenous people. It examines the higher death rates experienced by Indigenous people in the context of socioeconomic disadvantage and geographic location (in particular, remoteness). The measures of disadvantage and location are, themselves, a reflection of the continuing historical and cultural environment in which Australia's Indigenous peoples have lived since colonisation. As such they cannot fully explain why Indigenous death rates are as high as they are; nor can they explain why death rates for Indigenous people are so much higher than for the most disadvantaged non-Indigenous populations. To do that requires an understanding of the historical and cultural environment, a discussion which is beyond the scope of this report, but which has been addressed by others (see report for references). Data analysis can, however, inform our understanding of the extent and nature of differences in variations in Indigenous and non-Indigenous mortality.

Authored by PHIDU

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