Indigenous health refers to the physical, cultural, social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people (Indigenous Australians).
Many Indigenous Australians experience poorer health than other Australians, often dying at much younger ages.
Indigenous Australians are more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have mental health problems and chronic diseases such as respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
There is also a continued high occurrence of certain diseases — and resulting conditions — that are now virtually unknown in the non-Indigenous population. Notable among these are trachoma (a bacterial infection of the eye) and rheumatic heart disease.
Alcohol, tobacco and illicit substances are widely used by Australians, although substance use plays a significant role in the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians when it comes to life expectancy and health.
Closing the Gap
Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. Closing the Gap is a commitment by all Australian governments to improve the lives of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples. It aims to close the gap of Indigenous disadvantage in areas such as health, housing, education and employment.
In health, Closing the Gap has focused on areas including better access to Medicare and medicines, extra free immunisations, coordinated care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic conditions and a program to reduce the high rate of smoking among Indigenous people.
A review has found the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program is helping reduce tobacco use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The review highlighted the effectiveness of community-led campaigns in reducing tobacco use.
For more information, visit www.niaa.gov.au/.
The Australian Government has a number of initiatives designed to give better access for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to healthcare services that are essential to improving health and life expectancy, and to reducing child mortality.
The Indigenous Australians' Health Program provides primary health care, child and maternal health, support for people with chronic diseases and other targeted health activities. For more information, visit the Australian Government Department of Health.
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Last reviewed: March 2020