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Day 1: Australia 2012

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Hepatitis B

5.4 times the rate detected in the non-Indigenous population

Meningococcal infection

7.8 times the rate in the non-Indigenous population


4.3 times the rate in the non-Indigenous population

Chlamydia Infection

7.9 times the rate detected in the non-Indigenous population


1.6 times the rate in the non-Indigenous population

Social and emotional well being

The NATSIHS 2004-5 was the first Indigenous-specific survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics that aimed to measure the emotional and social health of Indigenous adults. In this, more than half the adult Indigenous population reported being happy (71%), calm and peaceful (56%), and/ or full of life (55%) all or most of the time. Just under half (47%) said they had a lot of energy all or most of the time. [60] And Indigenous peoples in remote areas were more likely to report having had these positive feelings all or most of the time, than were Indigenous peoples living in non-remote areas. Conversely, about 15% of the total number of adults who were asked felt these things only a little of the time, or none of the time. Results again were better for Indigenous peoples in remote areas. [61]
The NATSIHS 2004-5 also included five questions designed to highlight psychological distress. Responses showed that almost one in ten Indigenous adults reported feeling nervous all or most of the time. When asked how often they felt without hope, 7% said that they had this feeling all or most of the time. Similarly, 7% said that they felt so sad that nothing could cheer them up, all or most of the time. A higher proportion of the Indigenous population reported feeling restless (12%) and/ or that everything was an effort all or most of the time (17%). [62]

The Western Australian Aboriginal Child Health Survey collected data on approximately 5,000 Indigenous children over 2000-01. It reported that one in four Aboriginal children were at high risk of developing serious emotional or behavioural difficulties. This compares to about 1 in 6 or 7 of non-Aboriginal children. [63]

Mental health

Data on hospitalisations for mental and behavioural disorders provide a measure of the use of hospital services by those with problems related to mental health. In 2005--06 there were more hospitalisations of Indigenous males and females than expected based on the rates for other Australians for most types of mental and behavioural disorders. [64] In particular, hospitalisations for 'mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use' were almost five times higher for Indigenous males and around three times higher for Indigenous females. [65]

Hospitalisation rates for intentional self-harm may also be indicative of mental illness and distress. In 2005--06, Indigenous Australians were three times more likely to be hospitalised for intentional self-harm than other Australians. [66]

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)
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