Improving and Integrating Urban Indigenous Health Services

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Urban Indigenous Health

The vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (79%) live in urban areas, including 41% who live in major cities with populations of over 100,000. The fastest-growing Indigenous populations in Australia are in major cities. In South East Queensland, home to Australia’s largest and fastest-growing Indigenous region, the Census count shows a growth in the Indigenous population of 33% between 2011 and 2016, compared to an 18% national Indigenous population growth (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018).

South East Queensland is home to 11% of Australia’s and 38% of Queensland’s Indigenous population and this population is expected to grow from 85,000 in 2019 to 130,000 by 2031 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018).

Also, 73% of the disease and injury burden experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and 74% of the Indigenous health gap is in urban areas (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016).

IUIH contends that there is a need for a more nuanced approach if we are to better understand how to close the gap in health and economic disadvantage for all Indigenous Australians, noting that:

  • Nationally, urban Indigenous Australians remain more likely to experience premature death or live with health conditions than their non-Indigenous urban neighbours (2.1 times), compared with Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in remote areas (1.9 times) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016)
  • The Health Adjusted Life Expectancy (HALE) gap for Indigenous Australians is 1.5 times greater in South East Queensland (11.6 years) compared to remote areas in Queensland (7.6 years) (Queensland Health, 2017)
  • Access to mainstream services has failed to address this disadvantage
  • Policies which are not impacting on the greatest number of Indigenous people and therefore the most significant burden of disease will also not achieve close the gap outcomes.
“South East Queensland is home to 85,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people - with this number expected to grow to over 130,000 by 2030.”