2. Current Situation
The AASW believes the issues leading to the NTER are complex and there is no ‘quick fix, one size fits all’ solution for all Indigenous communities. The AASW recognises there are a number of serious concerns regarding the health and well being of Indigenous people across the NT and Australia and previous policy approaches by all levels of government have not effectively reduced the gap in life expectancy and opportunities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. These gaps include:
- A high infant mortality gap and an unacceptable 17 year health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians ((Holt, Y., 16 May 2008).
- Massive discrepancies in literacy and numeracy between Indigenous and non - Indigenous Australians (Hon Kevin Rudd, 7 April 2008).
- 20% higher death rates from smoking in Indigenous Australians than the rest of the community with anti-smoking messages do not targeting Indigenous communities (Thomas, D., April 2008).
- Mortality rates in pregnant Indigenous women are three times higher than the rest of the population due to poor health and diseases such as rheumatic heart disease (King, J., April 2008).
- Indigenous men are ten times more likely to be sexually abused than non-Indigenous men due to factors such as overcrowding, unemployment and drug abuse. (Adams, M., 9 May 2008).
- 7,500 Indigenous school age children are missing out early childhood to senior secondary schooling age missing out on schooling due to lack of facilities, suitably qualified and experienced bi-lingual teachers and engagement of Indigenous parents. Staff turnover is also an issue (Australian Education Union, 26 April 2008).
- 94% of Indigenous communities in the NT have no pre school, 56% have no secondary school and 27% have a local primary school more than 50km away. (The Combined Indigenous Organisations of the Northern Territory, 10 July 2007, p18).
- Remote Indigenous communities have the highest rates of unemployment, widespread violence, endemic alcoholism and substance abuse, lowest levels of education and lifelong morbidity for heart disease, nutrition and lifestyle disease such as diabetes (Langton, M., 2007, p14).