This report provides the latest information on how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in New South Wales are faring according to a range of indicators on health status, determinants of health and health system performance. Indicators are based on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework. The report highlights the main areas of improvement and continuing concern. For example, death rates for avoidable causes and circulatory diseases have declined since 2001, but almost half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers smoke during pregnancy and unemployment rates continue to remain higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people.
The report finds areas of improvement in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in New South Wales, including:
- a 20% decline in avoidable mortality from 2001 to 2010
- a 35% decline in deaths due to circulatory disease, the leading cause of death for Indigenous Australians from 2001-2010
- a significant increase in health assessments recorded through Medicare since the introduction of the National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes in July 2009
- corresponding increases in allied health care services claimed by Indigenous Australians through Medicare since 1 July 2009. Indigenous Australians have higher rates of general practitioner management plans and team care arrangements than non-Indigenous Australians
- immunisation coverage for Indigenous children is similar to non-Indigenous children by age 2
- an increase in the proportion of pregnant women attending antenatal care
- a 15% decline in the rate of low birthweight between 2001 and 2009.
Areas of concern include:
- high rates of smoking during pregnancy (47%)
- lower rates of access to antenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy
- more than half of those aged 18 and over in non-remote areas have a disability or long- term health condition
- mortality rates for chronic diseases are much higher for Indigenous Australians (8 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians for diabetes and almost twice the rate for circulatory diseases)
- a 286% increase in Indigenous Australians commencing end stage renal disease therapy since 1991 (currently 3 times the rate for non-Indigenous Australians)
- high rates of hospitalisations and deaths due to injury (particularly assault, suicide and transport accidents)
- barriers to accessing appropriate health care, such as cultural competency, continue to remain a problem
- lower access to procedures in hospitals
- a large unmet need for dental care for Indigenous children
- unemployment rates continue to remain higher for Indigenous people than for non- Indigenous people (21% compared with 4% in 2008).