A troubling snapshot of disadvantage


There are massive gaps in the quality of health between the most disadvantaged areas of the Northern Territory and those in the nation generally.
For obesity and overweight the rate for the nation’s disadvantaged areas is 38.5%. The NT’s is nearly double that, 75.5%.
For smoking the nation’s rate is estimated at 24.3% compared to 40.8% in the NT. (The rates for smoking in Australia’s most advantaged areas are 8.5% vs 13.1% in the NT.)
For heart, stroke and vascular diseases there is a mammoth gap: 5.5% for the nation’s most disadvantaged areas, 55.2% for the NT – 10 times the national rate.
By the way, Katherine has the nation’s lowest rate, 2.7%.
Professor John Glover, of the Torrens University in Adelaide, who is releasing these statistics today, says people in the most disadvantaged areas die a lot younger.
In the capital cities the range in median age at death is from 62 years in Driver, Gray, Moulden and Woodroffe in Darwin, to 89 years in Ashburton in Melbourne.
“In regional Australia, the lowest median age at death is 48 years in the APY Lands in north-west South Australia,” says Prof Glover.
“Several localities shared the highest median age at death of 85 years.
“They are Ballina in New South Wales, Grovedale in Victoria, Clear Island Waters / Merrimac in Queensland and Nuriootpa – Tanunda in South Australia.
“Public health figures disturbingly reveal, yet again, the poorer health outcomes for people in our community who are most disadvantaged,” says Prof Glover.
The greatest variation is for the Aboriginal populations: “It all stems from early life, the first 300 days of getting a good grounding.”
From there it should progress to “being able to read and write, getting to school through preschool, having social skills and confidence, moving on through life by getting a good education, particularly as we move to a more technological society.
“Being able to get a job, not any job but one that actually delivers self worth, dignity, as well as an income, which then allows choices in housing, lifestyle, decent food,” says Prof Glover.
“All that adds up to fewer diseases, a healthier life and lower level of premature mortality.
“We are getting many improvements. The overall level of premature mortality has dropped 40% in the last 30 years, but it has not dropped as much in the most disadvantaged areas as compared to the well off.”
Health, education, transport, welfare and housing initiatives need to come from federal, state and local governments, working together.
Individuals and leaders around the country make choices about what they do in their lives “but you cannot get past that there are many structural factors – lack of housing, lack of appropriate rental systems, people who can’t afford commission housing on unemployment benefit or disability pension, and that leads to a whole lot of other issues.”
The information released today comes from the Public Health Information Development Unit of the Torrens University and is based on data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.


  1. Saw several 6 to 8 year olds on the street this morning at 5am unaccompanied by a guardian or adult.
    What hope do these children have?
    Police and the various services must just be driving straight past these children. These children need protection – not ignoring.
    The legislation exists to take these children home or to a safe place.
    The legislation exists to get kids to school.
    Step up and help these kids and the gap will narrow.

  2. Statistics have no uses if they do not come with real practical solutions.
    I am certain we can see all those problems without having the exact numbers.
    We know the kids should be off the streets at night: Solutions?
    We know they must have a safe environment and healthy ways of life: Solutions?
    We know about no education – no good job – poor mental health: Solutions?
    I would like to say to all those highly educate professors / doctors / researchers what my parents and grandparents used to tell me: “Do not come to me with your problems if you have not a solution to offer.”

  3. Why, oh why, does that taxpayer always have to pay for NT programs to “look after” indigenous youths?
    Free education, free health care, free bloody everything because they are Indigenous?
    How is that fair to everyday Australians and taxpayers?
    Getting paid to look after your kids (FTB, Single Parenting, Newstart … the list goes on).
    Then it’s the community’s or the government’s fault because these lazy parents have children and don’t look after them?
    Community and family orientated, my ass!
    These people need to look after their children each other and stop blaming non-indigenous and colonisation.
    Wake up! There is not the only Indigenous culture.
    The world that has been colonised – dehumanised, disempowered, disenchanted.
    But it is only the Indigenous community that keeps asking for handouts and blaming non-indigenous for their sorry state of affairs.
    Can’t stand it.
    Broken into my home more than enough times.
    Drunk fighting. Domestic violence. Child abuse.
    I’m over working my ass off to support these people.

  4. Like come on you people, you people don’t understand at all don’t you.
    These first Australians need a lot of caring for, teaching and prompting etc.
    The surrounding people can be a lot more understanding, empathic and teaching as well.
    Let’s all work together and start understanding. Let’s practice loving one another and them kids roaming you can talk to them, honestly, to sense, begging a relationship.
    Not good looking from afar, step in after Alice Springs belongs to all of us.
    Begin getting to know your neighbours.

  5. It was once the parents’ responsibility and when that was stopped it became the school’s responsibility, then the employer’s. It’s time the parents were allowed and made to take on the responsibility.

  6. Ftp: I hear what you are saying and unfortunately I am past it.
    I have lived and worked with multiple Indigenous peoples around the world.
    Hell, I am Indigenous from another culture.
    Nobody is “not working” with Australian Indigenous.
    You talk about First Australians needing prompting and teaching and caring for.
    So, why can’t we apply that across the board to all cultures?
    We live in a multicultural Australia.
    If you can apply for Centrelink and buy smokes, alcohol, cars and all other trapping society, then why can’t you participate positively also? It’s not about being first or second. Look around you.
    The world is full of Indigenous peoples, this is the only country where we pay Indigenous to be Indigenous because the government stuffed up.
    We all live here. We all live in a world that needs love, caring, prompting.
    I don’t think these are discriminatory just to Indigenous First Australians. I stand by my earlier comment.
    Here in Northern Territory we tiptoe on eggshells, we suffer from reverse racism, get yelled at and abused.
    Ian’s told to go home and get out of our country when we refuse to give money.
    I work an honest job, I always have, I’ve contributed 23 years to tax here as a non-Indigenous Australian, but I refuse to allow myself to “get used” to Alice Springs violence, abuse, dirty and smelly and poor and all the rest.
    This is NOT OK. We live in 2020 for goodness sakes.
    Corrupt Indigenous leaders taking money for themselves and their families, and not even getting jail time? What’s that all about? (King Brown County anyone?) Come on.
    Where are all the Indigenous leaders? I know. Getting paid to accuse us of racism. Pull the race card time and time again.
    I don’t buy it. Done.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here