Journal article

Limited progress in closing the mortality gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians of the Northern Territory

First Peoples health Life expectancy Maternal and infant welfare Closing the Gap Northern Territory
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DOI: 10.1111/1753-6405.12921 712.6 KB


Objectives: To assess whether progress is being made towards reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inequality in life expectancy and under‐five mortality in the Northern Territory.

Methods: Life tables for five‐year periods from 1966–71 to 2011–16 were calculated using standard abridged life table methods with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths and population estimates as inputs. The latter were calculated using reverse cohort survival.

Results: In 2011–16, life expectancy at birth for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population was 68.2 years for females and 64.9 years for males. Limited progress in under‐five mortality rates has been made in recent years.

Conclusions: Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life expectancy has increased in the long run, the gap with all‐Australian life expectancy has not narrowed. The gap in under‐five mortality rates is much lower than it was in the 1960s and 1970s, but progress has been limited over the past decade.

Implications for public health: The ‘Closing the Gap’ target of halving the gap in under‐five mortality by 2018 will not be met in the Northern Territory, and there is no evidence yet of progress on the target to eliminate the gap in life expectancy by 2031.

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