The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare released the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012 report: Queensland on March 25.
The report draws attention to the many disparities between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) and the non-Indigenous populations of Queensland, Australia, in terms of health status and outcomes; determinants of health; and health system performance. Additionally, the data for Queensland are compared with those nationally.
By June 30, 2011, 4·2% of Queensland’s population were Indigenous. In 2009, 52% of the Indigenous and 16% of the non-Indigenous women in Queensland smoked during pregnancy. Incidences of lung and cervical cancers in 2004—08 were 1·7 and 3·4 times higher, respectively, in the Indigenous population than in the non-Indigenous population. Between July, 2008, and June, 2010, the rates of hospital admissions for cancer were lower for the Indigenous population. The incidence of end-stage renal disease was higher in the Indigenous population in 2008—10, with the greatest (14·4 times) difference in the age group 45—54 years. From 2006 to 2010, the mortality rates from chronic illnesses, including cancer, diabetes, and circulatory, respiratory, and kidney diseases, were higher in the Indigenous population—eg, 7·8 times for diabetes. In 2006, 46% of the Indigenous population were in the most disadvantaged quintile of socioeconomic status compared with 19% of the non-Indigenous population.
The good news is that some improvements have occurred in Queensland. From 2001 to 2010, the rate of avoidable deaths fell by 32% in the Indigenous population. Also, the infant mortality rate decreased by 41%, with a reduction of 71% in the disparity between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. Although the ill treatment of the Indigenous Australians will not be forgotten, the Government of Australia needs to respond to the findings of its report and find ways to improve the circumstances, health, and welfare of this population so that they are on a par with those of the non-Indigenous population.