The release of the 2020 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework (The Framework) by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), which monitors health status and outcomes across 68 performance measures across three tiers, has shown mixed results with some areas demonstrating signs of improvement while others evidenced no changes or a decline.
Among the health status and outcomes examined among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are life expectancy, leading causes of illness and death, mental health, social and emotional wellbeing, and community functioning.
The determinants of health referred to in the title of the report are the environmental and socioeconomic conditions that can affect health, including education, employment, income, housing, child protection, justice, culture and access to traditional land, and health risk factors including smoking, diet and exercise.
Acknowledging that “Determinants of health are key drivers of health outcomes in a population”, AIHW spokesperson Dr. Fadwa Al-Yaman went on to say that “For Indigenous Australians to have considerably better health outcomes, improvements in determinants beyond the health sector are also required.”
Dr Al-Yawan also noted that despite improvements in areas such avoidable deaths and cardiovascular disease, “significant differences in outcomes exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians across a range of measures.”
It is these areas of concerns that are the focus of new targets in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap signed by the Coalition of Peaks and all Australian Governments in mid-2020.