Respect, tolerance and trust in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are needed from government to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians

Reflecting back over 30 years of working in Indigenous health, I think that it has been a time of change rather than improvement. This is not to say that some improvements have not occurred. No longer do I see children dying of gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Instead, young men are dying of heart disease, diabetes is prevalent, and so many young people are smoking. But even this is not totally bad news; the life-expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians narrowed from about 17 years for both males and females between 1996 and 2001 to 11.5 years for males and 9.7 years for females between 2005 and 2007.