How can we address inequalities in healthcare quality and access across Australia?

What’s the problem?

Despite our best efforts, Australia remains a country with significant health inequalities. This means the quality of your healthcare will differ depending on who you are and where you live. This plays out in factors such as mortality rates.

Alt text While our national average for life expectancy is relatively high, for particular population groups, mortality rates are higher and life is shorter. These statistics have barely shifted in over 10 years.

Good health is easily taken for granted, until you don’t have it any more. We know what good healthcare looks like. It is available in many urban areas.

The fact that health outcomes for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and for people living in rural, remote and low socio-economic status areas are so much poorer than urban dwellers is because of complicated social and cultural factors as well resource allocation. Australia is a big country and with our population crowded around the coast, so too are our best health services.

Seven things you need to know

  • Australian Government real health expenditure per person is projected to more than double over the next 40.

  • A significant investment gap in health funding persists for rural and remote areas. The deficit for primary and aged care services is estimated to be $3 billion.

  • Disparity in access to healthcare for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community results in a life expectancy that is 10-17 years shorter compared to other Australians.

  • In 2009–2011, the mortality rate for Indigenous Australians was almost twice that for non-Indigenous Australians.

  • In 2009–2011, males had a mortality rate 1.5 times that of females.

  • In 2009–2011, people living in remote and very remote areas had a mortality rate 1.4 times that of people in major cities.

  • In 2009–2011, people living in the lowest socioeconomic status (SES) areas had a mortality rate 1.3 times that of those in areas with the highest SES.

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