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19 Mar 2015

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said today that coordinated national action from all governments and the health sector, including the medical profession, is needed to restore momentum to efforts to close the gap in health and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians.

A/Prof Owler said that last month’s Close the Gap Campaign Report and Prime Minister’s Closing the Gap Report showed that targets for life expectancy, reduced mortality rates, and other key performance indicators are not being met or are not on track.

“Despite modest gains in some areas for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in recent years, progress is slow and much more needs to be done,” A/Prof Owler said.

“Smoking rates are going down slowly, and we’re on track to halve the rate of mortality for children under five years of age by 2018.

“This is encouraging, but we still have a life expectancy gap of around ten years between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians. And the death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is still more than double the rate for non-Indigenous children.

“This is simply unacceptable in the 21st Century. We can, and must, do better,” A/Prof Owler said.

A/Prof Owler said that recent data have identified stubbornly high levels of treatable and preventable conditions, high levels of chronic conditions at comparatively young ages, high levels of undetected and untreated chronic conditions, and higher rates of co-morbidity in chronic disease.

“A higher prevalence of risk factors for chronic disease – mental health conditions, smoking, overweight and obesity, and harmful drinking levels – also persistently contributes to poor health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“In the face of this unacceptable disparity, the AMA remains committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups to advocate for greater Government investment and cohesive and coordinated strategies to improve health outcomes for Indigenous people,” A/Prof Owler said.

The AMA works closely with groups such as the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) and the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association to ensure a network of adequately remunerated, sustainable and responsive primary health care services and a strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

19 March 2015

CONTACT:        John Flannery                     02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761


                            Odette Visser                      02 6270 5412 / 0427 209 753 

Published: 19 Mar 2015