NACCHO Aboriginal health alert: Report reveals Aboriginal socio-economic disadvantage


Picture above NT Chief Minister Adam Giles and new Minister the Indigenous Affairs Senator Nigel Scullion visit bush camps at Utopia North East of Alice Springs a remote area in the NT

In a recent article  in The Australia outlined that Indigenous Australians are more likely to live in neighbourhoods where the rest of the population is relatively disadvantaged.

More than a third of indigenous Australians (36.6 per cent) live among the most disadvantaged 10 per cent of the population and only 1.7 per cent live among the top 10 per cent.


The paper, by the Australian National University’s Nicholas Biddle, finds that in every area analysed, the Indigenous population had higher levels of socioeconomic disadvantage than the non-indigenous population.

Although disadvantage was generally higher in remote locations, there was wide variation in both urban and remote and regional locations.

The report ranked, in a joint pool, the non-indigenous and indigenous populations of 368 locations around the country based on a socioeconomic measure that incorporated three employment measures, three for education, two for housing and one for income. The non-indigenous and indigenous components of a community were then compared to see whether there was socioeconomic equity.

The average difference was 48.3 percentile places, meaning the non-indigenous population in an area ranked about 48 places (out of 100) higher than the indigenous population in the same area.

The smallest gap between the two populations was in “Sydney — lower north”, where the indigenous population was ranked in the 9th percentile while the non-indigenous population was ranked in the top percentile.

There were three areas where the indigenous population ranked in the 100th (most disadvantaged) percentile while the non-indigenous population ranked in the first (most advantaged percentile): Ramingining-Milingimbi and outstations; Great Sandy Desert; and Kaltukatjara and outstations.

All are in remote Australia, where the gaps between the indigenous and non-indigenous population were greatest.

Between 2006 and 2011, there were eight areas that improved their relative socioeconomic ranking by 20 percentile places or more. Dr Biddle said most of these areas were in remote parts of the country including Bulloo-Quilpie-Barcoo and Nhulunbuy-Gunyangara.

“However, there was also significant improvement in the socioeconomic ranking of the inner suburbs of Darwin,” he said.

There were seven areas that worsened in terms of their socioeconomic rank by 20 percentile places or more.

“The areas that worsened the most tended to be in regional areas, including Atherton in Queensland,” Dr Biddle said. “However, there was also a worsening in the outcomes for the indigenous area of South Perth-Victoria Park.”

Dr Biddle said that possibly the most important finding from the paper was that in every area in Australia, Aborigines had substantially worse outcomes than non-indigenous Australians.

“Indigenous status is only one predictor of disadvantage,” he said.

“However, in every part of Australia indigenous status predicts poorer socioeconomic outcomes and our policy makers, service providers, educators, employers — everyone really — needs to be aware of this.”



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NACCHO Aboriginal health Monday snapshot: 19 August 2013


1. Save the date: Commitment to Indigenous Health: Local and National Contributions to meeting the Challenges – Canberra – 2 October 2013

The Indigenous Health Interest Group is holding our second research showcase in October 2013, Commitment to Indigenous Health: Local and National Contributions to Meeting the Challenges. The event is co-sponsored by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.


2. Save the date: ‘Heart of the Centre’ – Alice Springs – 3 – 4 October 2013

This educational symposium is designed for health professionals who are working with the impact of chronic diseases in Indigenous communities, in particular cardiovascular disease and its complications.

Local and national experts will discuss the latest evidence and relevance to the NT experience.  The Symposium is aimed at all health professionals, including GPs, clinical specialists, hospital staff, remote health and allied health staff.  Aboriginal Health Practitioners and AHWs are encouraged to attend this educational event.

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3. Save the date: World Diabetes Congress – Melbourne – 2 – 6 December 2013

The World Diabetes Congress is one of the world’s largest health-related events. It brings together healthcare professionals, diabetes associations, policy-makers and companies to share the latest findings in diabetes research and best practice.

NACCHO Aboriginal health news:dramatic rise in the number of Aboriginals who are disabled


NACCHO welcomes comment and feedback on this important issue:see comments box below

INDIGENOUS Australians are about twice as likely to report a profound or severe disability as their non-indigenous counterparts, according to startling new census analysis to be released by the Australian National University.

ANU fellow Nicholas Biddle with co-authors Mandy Yap and Matthew Gray looked at the rates of disability reported in the 2006 and 2011 censuses and found a dramatic rise in the number of indigenous Australians who are disabled, with substantially more likely to report a profound or severe disability than their non-indigenous counterparts.

In 2011, 6.1 per cent of indigenous males reported a severe or profound disability compared with 4.5 per cent of non-indigenous males. Indigenous females, at 5.4 per cent, had a lower rate of profound or severe disability than indigenous males, but a higher rate than non-indigenous females at 5.2 per cent.

Dr Biddle said the increase was partly to do with the ageing of the indigenous population and what he believes was an under-reporting in 2006.

“The fact that indigenous Australians are relatively young reduces the overall rate of disability in the population.

“When you use the age-specific rates presented in our paper, you can see that across the age distribution an indigenous Australian is roughly twice as likely to report a profound or severe disability as their non-indigenous counterparts,” Dr Biddle told The Australian.

“There was an increase in reported rates of disability between 2006 and 2011.

“However, this is partly to do with the ageing of the indigenous population.

“We also suspect that 2006 rates were substantially under-reported. What we can say though is that for a given age, rates of profound or severe disability for the indigenous population have not fallen anywhere near as much as anyone would have liked,” he said.

The other main findings in the paper are that, after controlling for age, indigenous Australians with a profound or severe disability are less likely to be employed but more likely to be providing unpaid care than their non-indigenous counterparts.

The ANU authors say the results suggest an ongoing need for targeted support for indigenous Australians with a disability: “Either to be able to find suitable employment, or for assistance in providing care to others”.

Indigenous males and females with a disability participate in the community at a relatively high rate by providing unpaid care and assistance to others, which they do at a greater rate than non-indigenous disabled people, the report finds.

Dr Biddle said much of the attention on the national disability insurance scheme had focused on the total Australian population and not Aborigines, despite their suffering the highest rates of disability.

More than a quarter of the indigenous population aged 65 and over has a profound or severe disability.