by Gopalan on  July 2, 2009 at 12:54 PM General Health News
 Report On Aboriginal Conditions Devastating - Australian PM
Conditions of Australian aboriginals are worsening, a new report says. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the findings are devastating.

Aborigines, the country's original inhabitants, account for 2.5 percent of the 21 million population.

They are Australia's most impoverished minority, with a lifespan 17 years shorter than the national average and disproportionately high rates of imprisonment, heart disease and infant mortality.

The federal government has now released a report that showed indigenous children were six times more likely to be abused or neglected than their non-Aboriginal counterparts.

The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report found abuse and neglect of Aboriginal children had doubled since 2000, with 35 in every 1,000 suffering compared with six in 1,000 non-Aboriginals.

It also found the indigenous homicide rate was seven times higher than in the rest of the community, with hospitalisations from domestic violence 34 times higher and Aborigines 13 times more likely to be imprisoned.

"This report on indigenous disadvantage is a devastating report," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

"The fact that despite all the efforts in the past, when it comes to such basic things as literacy and numeracy standards, that we have achieved no effective progress, means that we have to redouble and treble our efforts to make an impact."

"It is unacceptable and it requires decisive action."

The report, which tracks major quality of life indicators, found there had been no improvement in 80 percent of measures, and a marked decline in areas such as education and imprisonment.

"A number of key social indicators have shown little improvement, with a deterioration in areas such as criminal justice," said Gary Banks, one of the report's authors.

"In many areas we're still observing no change," he added.

Rudd delivered a historic apology for past abuses in February last year and committed to halving the gaps in infant mortality, overall life expectancy, literacy and numeracy achievement and school completion rates within 10 years.

He was forced to defend progress earlier this year when a report card showed little had been achieved since the apology, despite the deployment of police and troops in remote Aboriginal towns and quarantining of welfare payments.

Under the quarantine policy a portion of Aboriginal welfare payments are set aside for food, electricity and clothing, in a bid to curb spending on alcohol, cigarettes and pornography.

Source: Medindia

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