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Closing the gap in indigenous Australians' life expectancy

Tony Barnes, Charles Darwin University
Ching Choi, Australian National University
Steve Guthrie, Northern Territory Department of Health
Rob Hyndman, Monash University

The health of Indigenous Australians is poor compared to that of comparable Indigenous people. Life expectancy is 15 to 20 years less than other Australians, and the gap does not seem to be narrowing. The Australian government has recently committed to eliminating the gap within a generation, and to reporting annually to the parliament on progress. We examine this policy in a political and health development context, and then focus on the reporting commitment. Indigenous deaths are poorly reported, and official estimates rely on indirect methods, which recently have produced highly variable results. We report on a program to improve the estimation of Indigenous life expectancy, first by systematically degrading data from areas of good reporting to estimate the effect of poor reporting, and second by linking national death data to other sources of information on Indigenous status, combined with dual record estimates of deaths missed by all sources.

Presented in Poster Session 5: Poster Session 5: contexts