Aboriginal health

Anex has recently been working with the National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation (NACCHO) on a report commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs (ANCD). You can download the report: Injecting drug use and associated harms among Aboriginal Australians from the ANCD website.

Action research conducted by Anex and VACCHO: Addressing HIV risks related to injecting drug use in Victorian Aboriginal Communities is available for download here.

There is much evidence to indicate that levels of drug and alcohol use among Indigenous Australians are alarmingly high compared to the general population. In recent years there have been considerable reductions in the use of most alcohol and other drugs among non- Indigenous Australians. This has not been the case however amongst our Indigenous population.

In fact in the last 15 years there has been little change in the prevalence of smoking among Indigenous Australians with around 50 per cent compared to approximately 19 per cent among non- Indigenous Australians.

Nationwide data also indicates that Indigenous Australians are more likely to have recently consumed alcohol and to have done so at levels which put them, and those around them, at increased risk of harm.  Preventable harms attributed to smoking and alcohol comprise a significantly larger burden of disease and mortality among Indigenous Australians.

Similarly, the increasing use of illicit drugs, including polydrug use, among Indigenous Australians is of growing concern. Such usage is thought to contribute to a disproportionate representation in terms of hospitalisations, mental health concerns, physical and social harms, and involvement with the criminal justice system. In the alcohol and other drug (AOD) sector it has become increasingly apparent that there is a considerable level of unmet need for services for Indigenous Australians.

With a younger, more mobile and marginalised population, indications of increasing rates of drug use, and less access to prevention services, the data provides a serious warning that something needs to be done now.

In light of the fact there has been limited reduction in the prevalence of drug and alcohol related harms among Indigenous Australians, Anex believes more effective policies and strategies are required to address these inequalities.

HIV infection:

20 per cent of HIV infections among Indigenous people occur through the sharing of injecting equipment compared to the general population of 3 per cent.

Hepatitis C infection:

In 2001 was 36.5 per 100,000 notified with hepatitis C compared to the general population of 3.9 per 100,000.

Indigenous people in prison:

Indigenous people make up approximately 20 per cent of the Australian prison population, yet among the general Australian population, 2.5 per cent are Indigenous.