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Indigenous Australians face alarming murder risk

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 1 December 2004

Indigenous people are murdered at a rate 11 times higher than the rest of the population, according to a damning report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The report is based on figures from South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory collected over three years from 1997.

Institute researcher Yvonne Helps says while the report found a number of causes of Indigenous deaths, the number of fatalities from assault were alarming.

"We're finding that assault is one of the major ones but also transport and suicide are major causes of death," she said.

"We're finding the more remotely people live, the more likely they're affected by these particular causes of death."

The report also found that Indigenous suicide rates are double those among non-Indigenous Australians and deaths from transport injuries are three times higher.

Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Amanda Vanstone says she is not surprised by the figures.

She has told the Senate that leaders, past and present, are to blame.

"Not a surprise, this report," she said. "It puts a spotlight on the problem.

"It's a very sad situation and it's not one that's happened overnight. It's happened over decades and decades of disadvantage and failed solutions of previous governments of all persuasions and at all levels, and a failure of Indigenous leadership."

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