The life expectancy of Indigenous Australians increases

The life expectancy of Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory (NT) has increased over two decades, government research has found.

According to a report published by the NT government, the average life expectancy for Indigenous males jumped from 56.6 years in 1999 to 65.6 years in 2018.

It marks an increase of nine years, or 15.9 percent.

By comparison, for Indigenous females, it rose from 64.8 years to 69.7 years.

Despite the improvement, Indigenous life expectancy remained much lower than that of the non-Indigenous NT population, which was 85.1 years for women and 81 years for men.

The report found fewer Indigenous deaths from cardiovascular disease, cancer and kidney disease were the main factors increasing life expectancy.

“During 1999 to 2018, the difference in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people declined by 26 percent for men, from 20.8 to 15.4 years, and 21 percent for women, from 19.5 to 15.4 years,” Zhao Yueyen, NT Health principal health economist and leader of the research, was quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday.

The Closing the Gap framework, a federal government strategy to reduce Indigenous disadvantage, is aiming for the life expectancy of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to be equal by 2031.

However, the NT report said the rate of progress was “inadequate” to achieve that goal.

“At the current rate, a further 60 years will be required to eliminate the gap in the NT,” it said. ■

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