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By Justin Healey

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Extra resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2012: Detailed analyses, pp. vii-xii. au on 5 March 2014. 6%). Areas needing further work Barriers to accessing health care •• In 2008, 26% of Indigenous Australians aged 15 years and over reported having problems accessing health services. Of those who had problems accessing health services, about 20% had problem with accessing dentists, 10% reported problems accessing doctors, and 7% reported problems accessing hospitals. •• Selected potentially preventable hospitalisation rates for Indigenous Australians were 5 times the non-Indigenous rate during the period July 2008 and June 2010.

38 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Issues in Society | Volume 376 Circulatory diseases •• Deaths from circulatory diseases declined by 41% for Indigenous Australians between 1997 and 2010. Respiratory diseases •• Deaths from respiratory diseases declined by 39% for Indigenous Australians between 1997 and 2010. Infant and child mortality •• The Indigenous infant mortality rate declined by 62% between 1991 and 2010, and the gap between Indigenous and other Australians narrowed by 67%.

It is worth asking deeper questions about what Closing the Gap brings to the political conversation and what it leaves out. will ‘walk the talk’ to close the gap is still unclear. Abbott has a ‘passionate’ personal commitment to this area. He reaffirmed on Wednesday his election promise to spend one week a year in a remote Indigenous community. The continual focus on the ‘gap’ itself sidelines public debate about why the gap exists and how it can be closed. But as Abbott himself acknowledges, good intentions have never been in short supply in this ‘wicked’ policy area and are no guarantee of change.

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