Closing the gap on health inequality

Published Friday, 17 March, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick today released the Queensland Health Closing the gap performance report 2016

Mr Dick said the report, released annually, monitors the progress in closing the life expectancy and child mortality gaps between Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to delivering meaningful reconciliation with our Indigenous people, and to continuing our efforts to reduce the enduring gap they are experiencing in their health outcomes,” Mr Dick said. 

“While this year’s report shows that Queensland continues to make progress in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders against a range of health measures, we know there is still much more to do to reduce the health gap.

“The report shows that life expectancy is improving for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders - up 1.6 years to 68.7 years for males and 1.7 years to 74.4 years for females.

“Infant mortality rates for indigenous children aged 0 to 4 have fallen by 18.8 per cent, augmented by an increase in antenatal visits and a fall in smoking rates for pregnant women.

“We have also seen a decline in mortality from cardio-vascular and respiratory disease.

“Whilst these results are encouraging, the fact is, both nationally and here in Queensland, we will miss our targets.

“As a country, we are not on track to close the life expectancy gap by 2031, but in Queensland, we are making positive gains through initiatives like our Making Tracks Investment Strategy.”

Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government’s $200M Making Tracks Strategy was investing in initiatives targeted to what the evidence shows are the largest contributors to the health gap.

“Various programs run by the Queensland Hospital and Health Services (HHS) are achieving great results in this space,” Mr Dick said.

“We have seen an increase in Indigenous women accessing five or more antenatal appointments through birthing support programs, with 97.8 per cent attendance at the Birthing in Our Communities program in Brisbane’s south.

“This is contributing to better outcomes for the health of mums and babies.”

Mr Dick said heart problems have always been a significant contributor to the mortality rate of Indigenous Queenslanders.

“Townsville HHS has improved access to interventions and procedures for Indigenous people experiencing acute coronary disease.

“The number of Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents receiving cardiac intervention after presenting with acute coronary syndrome has increased from 54.8 per cent to 75 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

“The Better Cardiac Care Program at the Princess Alexander Hospital in Metro South HHS has improved attendance at scheduled outpatient specialist cardiac clinic appointments and reviews, by reducing failure to attend rates by up to 35 per cent since commencing in 2015.

“Patients under the program also have lower 28 day readmission rates, at 9.7 per cent, compared to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients at the Princess Alexander Hospital, at 24.3 per cent.

“These are just some examples of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to improving healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.

“While there is still a long way to go, we are making significant progress in addressing health inequality and closing the gap in Queensland.”

The Closing the Gap performance report 2016 can be found on the Queensland Health Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Branch website


Media contact:             Michelle Wellington 0437 323 834