Eyecare for Australia's indigenous peoples

18 November 2014
Volume 15, Issue 4

Although Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprise just 3% of the total Australian population , they experience a significantly higher burden of ill health in comparison to other Australians.


Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have occupied Australia for over 60 000 years (Rasmussen et al. 2011) and are one of the oldest continuous cultures in the world. Australia was invaded by Europeans in the 18th century and the traditional custodians were progressively dispossessed from their lands and suffered disadvantage associated with colonisation, oppression and racism. Indigenous Australians (in this paper Indigenous Australians refers to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples) suffer a state of health and well-being far below the rest of Australia. There is a higher burden of ill health and mortality that includes a life expectancy around 10 years less than other Australians. There are high rates of unemployment and incarceration, low income, substandard housing and poorer educational outcomes. Indigenous Australians are three times more likely to be admitted to hospital than other Australians and suffer high rates of health risk factors such as smoking, substance misuse, mental illness, exposure to violence, lack of exercise and obesity (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2014).

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