The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at The University of Queensland (UQ) brings together Indigenous and health expertise across the University, and works collaboratively with Indigenous community organisations and health providers, on improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health was made possible by the generous support of philanthropist Mr Greg Poche AO and Mrs Kay van Norton Poche.
It is often assumed that the vast majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are located in remote and rural communities. In fact, over half of the Indigenous population lives in urban areas. In Queensland, roughly 1 in 3 Indigenous Queenslanders lives in the South East corner, which is home to the largest and fastest-growing Indigenous community in Australia.
Current estimates place the Indigenous population of the South East Queensland region as high as 75,000. With a projected average growth rate of 3.7% per year, this population is projected to increase to more than 130,000 by 2031.
While the remote population experience greater health inequality, due to their larger numbers, 60% of the Indigenous health gap is attributable to non-remote living Indigenous Australians.
Urban-dwelling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make a significant contribution to the overall health gap, accounting for the bulk of the gap in chronic respiratory disorders (66%), cancers (64%), diabetes (62%), and cardiovascular disease (61%), and are overrepresented in mental disorders (83%).
Attention needs to be paid to the health of urban Indigenous communities. Addressing their health needs and investing in urban Indigenous health services can secure significant progress in closing the gap.
Our Global Context
Globally, the world’s indigenous peoples are routinely marginalised and experience significant social disadvantage relative to the non-indigenous population. Indigenous peoples who migrate to urban centres frequently encounter barriers that inhibit their access to services and limit their economic and civic participation. As a result, their already poor health status is often exacerbated.
The health of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has traditionally been compared to the indigenous peoples of other postcolonial industrial countries, such as New Zealand, Canada and the United States. However, recent comparative studies with these nations indicate that Australia is falling behind in improving Indigenous outcomes.The vast disparities in health status between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are well established, including shorter life expectancies, higher rates of infant mortality, and a hugely disproportionate share of the overall disease burden.