Infant Mortality

Check out the Oxfam Australia policy report on Australian Indigenous people “Close the Gap: Solutions to the Indigenous Health Crisis Facing Australia” and you will be appalled at the findings. At least I certainly was, and we all should be.

It’s no secret that Indigenous people still suffer hugely as a result of colonization in Australia. There’s a spectrum of inadequacies: poor health; huge unemployment; a lower standard of living; a lower life expectancy and inadequate housing. These are just a few of the major issues facing the Aboriginal community. But what astounded me most was the infant mortality rate.

In a developed nation like Australia the health of babies and young children should be assured. You would think! But tragically and unacceptably the Australian Indigenous population ranks THE WORST for the rate of infant mortality. As cited in the Oxfam report, the infant mortality rate for Aboriginal Australians is 14.3 per 1000 live births. This compares with the 9.8 for the US, 8.9 for New Zealand and a comparatively low 6.4 for Canada. That’s almost three times the rate of Canada. What’s even more disturbing is that this figure of 14.3 compares with an Australia-wide rate of 4.7. The gap is alarmingly obvious from this statistic alone.

Why is the Government not doing more to respond to this gross inadequacy in infant health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders? Surely, in a country with a high standard of living, should respond first and foremost to the well-being and health of babies? For an organization like Oxfam to necessitate writing policy reports and running a campaign to for a section of Australia’s population astounds me. We are not a Third World nation, far from it, yet there are people living in third world conditions. When are we going to wake up and address this issue instead of trying to hide it?


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