Politics — 01 April 2012

Aboriginal Victorians are almost twice as likely to have depression or anxiety than non-indigenous people, a state government report shows.

A survey on the health of adult indigenous Victorians also found almost one in four Aboriginal people had high or very high psychological distress levels; almost twice that of non-indigenous people.

More than one in three Aboriginal people in the state have been diagnosed by a doctor with depression or anxiety, compared to one in five non-indigenous Victorians, the 2008 report says.

The survey also shows Aboriginal Victorians are more likely to suffer from cancer and asthma, and overall about 28 per cent reported being in fair or poor health, compared to about 18 per cent of non-indigenous people.

The report also outlines disease-causing behaviour and says smoking is far more prevalent among Aboriginal people, with 30 per cent saying they currently smoked, compared to 19 per cent of non-Aboriginal Victorians.

There were no significant statistical differences in terms of alcohol consumption or levels of physical activity.

Health Minister David Davis released the population health report on Thursday to mark National Close the Gap Day at the newly-refurbished Minajalku Healing Centre in Thornbury, in Melbourne’s north.

“This report shows us that although progress is being made in Aboriginal health, we have a long way to go to close the health gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians,” Mr Davis said in a statement.

He said the government was committed to a number of initiatives aimed at improving Aboriginal mental health.

It was injecting $500,000 a year to the Koori Mental Health Liaison Officer program, $130,000 per year to the Youth Justice Mental Health initiative and $600,000 over three years to the Robinvale Festival for Healthy Living, Mr Davis said.

The government is due to release a revamped Victorian indigenous affairs framework, an indigenous health strategy and an indigenous economic development and participation strategy later this year.

As first appeared on ninemsn

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