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Most Australian's health improving, Indigenous lagging

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 9 December 2004

The major health indicators are improving for most Australians but Indigenous groups still suffer from avoidable mortality rates, according to new figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

But not everyone is sharing in the country's improved health.

Australia has one of the world's longest life expectancies, behind Japan but on a par with several wealthy European countries.

Overall, the latest news is good, with Australia's rates of heart disease, stroke and injury dropping significantly over the past 10 years.

The benefits are not spread evenly.

People living in the country's most disadvantaged areas have avoidable mortality rates 54 per cent higher than those in the wealthiest areas.

The difference is most pronounced with Indigenous Australians, who suffer from higher infant mortality rates and are more likely to die of circulatory disease, diabetes or in accidents, suicides or assaults.

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