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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Doctors call for target to close gap on Indigenous incarceration rates

Date posted: 26 November 2015

Doctors are calling on the Turnbull Government to set a national target for closing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous imprisonment rates.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said on Wednesday that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, who were less likely to have seen a General Practitioner (GP) or health service provider before being incarcerated, were often only diagnosed with chronic health conditions, including mental health and substance abuse problems and cognitive disabilities, when they entered prison.

The AMA's report card on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health argued that high imprisonment rates should be treated as a 'symptom of the health gap' between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people, with such conditions known to increase the risk of people coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said that the rate of imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is rising dramatically, and is an issue that demands immediate action. 'We believe that it's possible to isolate particular health issues - notably mental health conditions, alcohol and other drug use, substance abuse disorders, and cognitive disabilities - as among the most significant drivers of the imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. These health issues must be targeted as part of an integrated effort to reduce Indigenous imprisonment rates,' he said.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Medical Association


Last updated: 26 November 2015
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