Professor Tom Calma AO


  • Mr Adrian Carson (CEO, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health)
  • Mr Matthew Cooke (Chairman, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation)
  • Professor Cindy Shannon (Pro-Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Engagement, and Director of the UQ Poche Centre, UQ)

More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living in Australian cities than ever before. Urban-dwelling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are often thought to have the same access to health services as the non-Indigenous urban population. The implication is that their health outcomes should also be similar. However, with higher rates of chronic disease and injury compared to their non-Indigenous neighbours, and a life expectancy gap that equates to an average difference of 10.9 years less than the non-Indigenous urban average, (ABS 2013) this is not the case.

What’s more, this disparity refutes the common assumption that ‘remoteness’ is the root cause of Indigenous ill health. Evidently ‘the health gap’ in urban areas is more complex than geography, and the growing urban population will continue to have implications for both communities and policymakers alike.

There are currently over 150 Aboriginal Medical Services, controlled and run by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people. Now commonly called Community Controlled Health Services (CCHSs) they operate nationwide and are overseen by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO). They provide primary health care, including access to GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, social and emotional wellbeing staff, and medical specialists (AIHW 2010), with facilitated access and coordination with mainstream service providers.

To learn more about Urban Indigenous Health, policy contexts, challenges and future directions read the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health's Monograph Series