The first annual report on the health indicators in the Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement finds areas of improvement in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and mothers including:
- a 46% decline in infant mortality for Indigenous infants from 2001 to 2010, and a 74% narrowing of the gap between mortality rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous infants
- a 7% decline in the proportion of low birthweight babies born to Indigenous mothers between 2000 and 2009 and a significant narrowing of the gap between low birthweight babies born to Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers
- an 84% decline in rates of syphilis among Indigenous teenagers between 1994-96 and 2009-11 and a significant narrowing of the gap between rates of syphilis among Indigenous and non-Indigenous teenagers
- a significant increase in the proportion of Indigenous mothers who attended antenatal care in the first trimester in one jurisdiction (South Australia) between 2007 and 2009 and a significant narrowing of the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous mothers who attended antenatal care in the first trimester in that jurisdiction
- a significant decline in the proportion of Indigenous mothers who smoked during pregnancy in one jurisdiction (Tasmania) between 2007 and 2009.
However there are a number of findings which are cause for concern, including:
- lower rates of antenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy for Indigenous mothers compared to non-Indigenous mothers
- high rates of smoking during pregnancy among Indigenous mothers (52%, or almost 4 times the rate for non-Indigenous mothers)
- rates of syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea that are much higher among Indigenous teenagers compared to non-Indigenous teenagers
- low birthweight is 2.5 times more common among babies born to Indigenous mothers than among babies born to non-Indigenous mothers
- infant mortality rates twice as high for Indigenous infants as for non-Indigenous infants.