Source: The Australian, 25 June, 1995, p.4

Aborigines tell of their grim lifestyles

THE annual average income 
of indigenous women is just 
$12,700 and $15,400 for men, 
according to Australian Social 
Trends 1996. 
While the overall income of 
non-indigenous people was 
$20,000, indigenous Australians 
received just $14,000. 
Most indigenous people told 
the Australian Bureau of Stat- 
istics in 1994 they had low 
personal incomes, especially in 
rural areas, where 65 per cent of 
Aborigines had gross annual 
incomes of $12,000 or less. 
The main source of income 
for 55 per cent of the indigen- 
ous population is welfare, 
although many Aborigines 
work for the dole under a 
scheme called the Community 
Development and Employment 
While 88 per cent of Aborigi- 
nes reported their health as 
ranging between good and 
excellent, the overall health 
status of the indigenous popu- 
lation is still far worse than the 
wider community. 
Despite the efforts of 
community-controlled medical 
services, Aboriginal health is 
not improving significantly and 
whites can expect to live 
between 15 and 20 years longer 
than blacks. 
Living in remote areas, with 
no access to bulk billing GPs 
and Medicare services, Aborigi- 
nes continue to suffer from 
preventable diseases and 
report the same low health 
status found only in developing 
In 1994, 41 per cent reported 
they had been ill recently and 
the most common conditions 
were diseases of the respiratory 
Half of all indigenous people 
over 13 said they smoked ciga- 
rettes, and 30 per cent said drug 
use was the biggest health 
problem in their area. 
Nearly 60 per cent reported 
alcohol as the biggest risk fac- 
tor and 20 per cent said a poor 
diet was the most detrimental 
part of their lifestyle. 
Aborigines are still more 
likely to live in rented houses 
than whites and usually in 
crowded conditions: 70 per cent 
of houses in which blacks live 
were rented compared to 28 per 
cent of all dwellings in Aust- 
More than half of the 303,000 
Aborigines in Australia live in 
Queensland and NSW. 
According to the National 
Aborifinal and Torres Strait 
Islander Survey, the quality of 
the housing exacerbates the 
poor health of the occupants. 
In 1994, 20 per cent of indigen- 
ous people lived in the 8 per 
cent of dwellings which had 
more than eight people under 
one roof. 
In the same year, 18 per cent 
of indigenous people who were 
not attending school had com- 
pleted a post-school qualifi- 
cation compared to 41 per cent 
of all Australians.

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