NACCHO #Health Press Release : #AIHW reveals the extent of the health crisis facing Aboriginal communities

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“In a wealthy country such as Australia, I am appalled by the unacceptable gap in the health of Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.  More than one-third (37%) of the diseases or illness experienced by Aboriginal people are preventable.

“We need to act before another generation of young Aboriginal people have to live with avoidable diseases and die far too young.

If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services –  a model we know works.

Matthew Cooke Chair of NACCHO pictured above with Vice Chair Sandy Davies 

New figures show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience ill health at more than double that of non-Indigenous Australians.

The peak Aboriginal health organisation, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) said the report highlights the urgent need for a rethink on actions to address the already known and growing crisis in Aboriginal health.

The report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) released today shows Aboriginal Australians experience a burden of disease at 2.3 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians.

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Download the report aihw-australian-burden-of-disease-study

NACCHO Chair, Matthew Cooke, said it is the first ever in-depth study of the scale of disease in Indigenous communities.

See AIHW Press Release

“It’s given us a clearer picture of the real impact for Aboriginal communities of poor health in terms of years of health lives lost, quality of life and wellbeing and what the risks factors really are,” Mr Cooke said.

“It’s shown that we still have a massive challenge to address the overwhelming level of non-fatal burden in mental health in particular – which makes up 43 per cent of non-fatal illness in men and 35 per cent of these conditions in women.

The AIHW report found that injuries, including suicide, heart disease and cancer are the biggest causes of death in Aboriginal people. Levels of diabetes and kidney disease are five and seven times higher in Aboriginal people than non-Aboriginal people.

Mr Cooke said the report must trigger a rethink on how health programs are funded and delivered to Aboriginal people.

“The risk factors causing health problems include tobacco use, alcohol use, high body mass, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high blood glucose and dietary factors – all of which can be addressed with the right programs on the ground and delivered by the right people.

“All levels of government should urgently act on this evidence; we need to see these findings translated into programs, policies and funding priorities that are proven to work. Too many programs aimed at addressing Aboriginal health are still fragmented, out of touch with local communities, unaffordable or inaccessible.

“If we are serious about turning this crisis around we need sustained investment in evidence-based programs for Aboriginal people, by Aboriginal people, through Aboriginal community controlled health services –  a model we know works.”

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