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Aboriginal Health lags a century behind: WHO report.

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SENATOR RACHEL SIEWERT Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

Aboriginal Health lags a century behind: WHO report

30th Apr 07

"The health of Aboriginal Australians is lagging a century behind that of other Australians," said Senator Rachel Siewert today. "We need to follow the example of other first world nations and put a massive injection of resources in this budget into Indigenous health of around $500 million per annum." "In this budget the Howard government has no excuse for not massively increasing funding for Aboriginal health," said Senator Siewert. "The latest report by the World Health Organisation documenting the failure of Australia to address the health disadvantage of our first peoples is an international scandal." "Per capita access to primary health care remains at 40% of that enjoyed by other Australians, resulting in a situation where half the Aboriginal population aged over fifteen already show signs of chronic disease," she said. "The Howard government is not focusing on the real issues, but wasting the little effort it expends on Aboriginal affairs on ill-conceived social experiments, like privatising home ownership and shared responsibility agreements." "The 17 year life expectancy gap will not significantly improve until the major inequalities in the system are fixed" said Senator Siewert. "The reason Indigenous Australians have reduced life expectancy, double the infant mortality and suffer much higher rates of chronic disease are all linked directly to disadvantage, poor living conditions and lack of access to primary care," she said. "The Greens believe that we need to focus on primary health, on early childhood programs, access to affordable medicines, and safe and healthy housing." "Australians don't want to see any of their citizens having to put up with third-world health outcomes," concluded Senator Siewert. "If New Zealand can make substantial inroads into the health disadvantage of their Indigenous people, why can't we?"