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Poverty and mental health in Aboriginal Australia

  • Jonathan Laugharne (a1)
Extract

When the Australian Governor General, Sir William Deane, referred in a speech in 1996 to the “appalling problems relating to Aboriginal health” he was not exaggerating. The Australia Bureau of Statistics report on The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (McLennan & Madden, 1997) outlines the following statistics. The life expectancy for Aboriginal Australians is 15 to 20 years lower than for non-Aboriginal Australians, and is lower than for most countries of the world with the exception of central Africa and India. Aboriginal babies are two to three times more likely to be of lower birth weight and two to four times more likely to die at birth than non-Aboriginal babies. Hospitalisation rates are two to three times higher for Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal Australians. Death rates from infectious diseases are 15 times higher among Aboriginal Australians than non-Aboriginal Australians. Rates for heart disease, diabetes, injury and respiratory diseases are also all higher among Aboriginals – and so the list goes on. It is fair to say that Aboriginal people have higher rates for almost every type of illness for which statistics are currently recorded.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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Desjarlais, R. & Eisenberg, L. (eds) (1995) Executive summary: a call for a United Nations year of mental health and a World Vision Organisation decade of mental health. In World Mental Health: Problems and Priorities in Low-Income Countries. New York: Oxford University Press.
Henderson, C., Thornicroft, G. & Glover, G. (1998) Inequalities in mental health. British Journal of Psychiatry, 173, 105 109.
Jablensky, A., Sartorius, N., Ernberg, G., et al (1992) Schizophrenia: Manifestations Incidence and Course in Different Cultures . A World Health Organization 10–Country Study. Psychological Medicine, Monograph Suppl. 20, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McLennan, W. & Madden, R. (1997) The Health and Welfare of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Canberra: Australia Bureau of Statistics, Australian Government Publishing Service.
Saraceno, B. & Barbui, C. (1997) Poverty and mental illness. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 42, 285 290.
Swan, P. & Raphael, B. (1995) Ways Forward: The National Consultancy Report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.
Wilkinson, R. G. (1989) Class mortality differentials, income distribution and trends in poverty, 1921–1981. Journal of Social Policy, 18, 307 335.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Poverty and mental health in Aboriginal Australia

  • Jonathan Laugharne (a1)
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