Aust aborigines fare worse than other indigenous peoples

This country is worst than South Africa at the height of Apartheid.

CANBERRA: Australia has been ranked at the bottom of a league table of wealthy nations working to improve the health of its indigenous people.

The report, report to be published today by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Oxfam Australia, found New Zealand, Canada and the US had narrowed the life expectancy gap between non-indigenous and indigenous people to approximately seven years.

But in Australia, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders are still dying nearly 20-years younger than non-Aboriginal Australians.

Oxfam said Australia lagged behind other wealthy nations in redressing the imbalance in indigenous health on a range of fronts.

The aid agency said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infant mortality rates were more than 50 percent higher than for indigenous children in the USA and New Zealand.

Low birth weights were also more than double the incidence of those of indigenous populations in Canada and the US, as well as 60 percent higher than in New Zealand's indigenous population.

Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, Andrew Hewett, said the health indicators were a national scandal.

"At what point do we stand up and start shouting?" he asked in a press statement.

"It's scandalous that in a country as wealthy as Australia we cannot solve a health crisis affecting less than three-percent of the population."

Oxfam said federal and state governments needed to invest an extra $A350 million to $A500 million ($NZ400.13 million to $NZ571.62 million) each year into primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to correct the slide.

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