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12 Jul 2019

To coincide with NAIDOC Week in July, the Federal Government announced an investment of more than $5.6 million towards medical research focusing on healthy ageing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The aim of the targeted research is to address the need for rigorous, culturally-informed research that ultimately improves the health and experiences of ageing in older Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) will provide the funding to support six research projects.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples currently have poorer health outcomes and higher rates of disability than non-Indigenous Australians of the same age.

They are also more likely to live with chronic and complex conditions that lead to a poorer quality of life and to die at a younger age.

“This funding will support practical and innovative research into the best approaches to prevention, early intervention, and treatment of health conditions of greatest concern to ageing Indigenous communities,” said Health Minister Greg Hunt and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt in a joint statement.

“Ultimately, parity in health outcomes is the only acceptable goal, and this funding will help to achieve it.”

NAIDOC Week also saw the release of two key Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reports.

Data released by the AIHW for the 2017–18 period showed 198 organisations provided primary health services to about 483,000 clients, with 81 per cent of them being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Organisations providing Indigenous primary health services employed nearly 8,000 FTE staff, and more than half of these (54 per cent) were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.

Improvements in health were seen and included: 

  • First antenatal visit before 13 weeks (up 3.2 percentage points to 42.4 per cent);
  • Influenza immunisation for clients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (up 5.3 percentage points to 37.2 per cent);
  • Influenza immunisation for clients with Type 2 diabetes (up 3.2 percentage points to 33.8 per cent);
  • Absolute cardiovascular risk (down 3.5 percentage points to 29.8 per cent); and
  • HbA1c (refers to glucose and haemoglobin joined together) result recorded for clients with Type 2 diabetes (up 3.1 percentage points to 52 per cent).

However, the reports also highlighted an increase in:

  • Low birthweight (up 1.8 percentage points to 13.2 per cent);
  • Smoking status of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months (current smoker) (up 0.5 percentage points to 49.5 per cent);
  • Smoking status result (current smoker) (up 0.2 percentage points to 51.7 per cent);
  • Recording kidney function test results for clients with Type 2 diabetes (down 0.6 percentage points to 62.0 per cent); and
  • Reported service gaps in mental health and youth services.

The AIHW reports are:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report — key results 2017–18; and

National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care: Results to June 2018.


Published: 12 Jul 2019