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Health Inequalities in Australia: A Comparative Analysis of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Populations


Task: How do health indicators like life expectancy, smoking rates, and chronic kidney disease highlight the healthcare disparities between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations in Australia, and what societal factors contribute to these gaps?



The population of Australia is divided into two different types. One is Indigenous and the other one is non-indigenous. People who are Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals are segmented under indigenous population and the other set of population falls under non-indigenous group. The indigenous population of Australia tend to live in rural or remote areas, whereas the other set of people live in urban and sub-urban regions. There are differences that have been encountered by these two groups of people. The status of health care facilities in Australia is good. However, people living in this country especially, the indigenous population have encountered healthcare inequalities. It has been reported that burden of health issues among indigenous Australian population is almost 2.3 times more than that of non-indigenous population. People who are Torres strait Islanders and Aboriginals are suffering from several chronic diseases and psychological distress than non-indigenous population (Australian Government, 2023a). This essay aims at choosing 3 different indicators and analyse health care differences among indigenous and non-indigenous population of the country.


Life expectancy is an important indicator that further demonstrates health conditions of a country’s population. Life expectancy has been identified as a statistical measure that helps in demonstrating average years an individual will live. Life expectancy rate is generally measured by people across the world because it differs from one community to another. In 2015-2017, it has been reported that life expectancy of indigenous women was 75.6 years. This means women who belong to the indigenous population of Australia is likely to live till 75.6 years. However, the life expectancy of non-indigenous women in Australia is 83.4 years (Australian Government, 2023b). Therefore, from the above data it can be concluded that life expectancy of non-indigenous women is more than that of indigenous women. It has been reported that social determinants are mostly responsible for such gaps in life expectancy.

Fig 1: Differences in Life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australian Population

Source: Australian Government, 2020

The lifestyle of indigenous population of Australia is less healthy than that of non-indigenous population. People who are a part of Torres straits Islanders and are identified as Aboriginals often indulged themselves in smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and several other unhealth activities. This is how life expectancy of the indigenous women population of Australia is decreasing. It has also been reported that 34% of Aboriginals women in Australia die before 45 years. Most aboriginals live in remote areas of Australia. These areas have limited healthcare facilities (Korff, 2022). People suffering from chronic diseases like cancer, metabolism issues and many more fail to get access to basic and proper healthcare. This is increasing the rate of mortality among this population.

In addition to this, tobacco smoking is another attribute that have an impact on health of indigenous and non-indigenous population of Australia. Smoking has been identified as a risky factor because it is one of the leading reasons behind cardiovascular disease. It has been reported that in 2018-2019, almost 37% of the indigenous population of Australia who belong to the age of 15 years and above, smoke on daily basis. The percentage of rates of smoking have not changed over several years among the indigenous population of the country (AIHW, 2022a). However, it has been reported that the percentage of non-indigenous smokers who belong to the age of 18 years and above have decreased from 1995 to 2017-2018. Moreover, 43% of indigenous pregnant mother smoke tobacco, whereas only 11% of non-indigenous mothers have indulged themselves in smoking (AIHW, 2022b). The major reasons behind such gap in smoking between indigenous and non-indigenous women is lack of awareness. With the increase in percentage of smoking among pregnant mothers, the health conditions of new born babies among Aboriginals are also becoming poor. This is how health gap is increasing not only between women but also between children of both indigenous and non-indigenous population of Australia. The above discussion concludes that smoking is one of the most common activitiesamong indigenous population of Australia because they are the socially disadvantaged group of the country. High rate of unemployment, increase in poverty, lack of awareness, education, and proper healthcare facilities are increasing their smoking habits. People who belong to this group are smoking in order to overcome stresses and their mental illnesses (NSW Health, 2023). This is how a gap in healthcare between indigenous and non-indigenous population of Australia is encountered.

Furthermore, gap between aboriginals and non-indigenous population in terms of chronic kidney diseases are also encountered by the people of Australia. Kidney is one of the most important organs of a human body. Both left and right kidneys are responsible for filtering toxic chemicals from our body. However, failure in kidney activities can be fatal for human beings. It has been reported that rate of hospitalisation of indigenous women due to chronic kidney disease is twice than that of men. Indigenous Australians are hospitalised for dialysis. This is the major treatment of kidney failure. Reported cases of kidney failure among indigenous population is 6.9 times more than that of non-indigenous population. When a patient suffers from kidney failure, then they should immediately start dialysis which should be followed by kidney transplant. It is reported that Torres straits islanders likely to receive less kidney transplants than that of the non-indigenous population of the country (AIHW, 2023). This is further increasing the rate of mortality among indigenous population and their quality of life is getting affected. Over several years, healthcare practitioners have researched and find out few reasons behind increase in percentage of kidney patients among indigenous population. People who belong to this indigenous group often suffer from obesity and diabetes. Moreover, due to lack of nutrition, small kidneys, constant infections are daily challenges faced by these native Australians (Korff, 2023). Finally, it can be concluded that kidney failure or chronic kidney issues are identified as ultimate problems that are primarily caused due to excessive poverty and nutrient deficiency.


This essay has helped to get an overview of health inequalities that the non-indigenous and indigenous population of Australia encounter. This essay has also helped to get insightful information about the lifestyle of Aboriginals. This essay aimed at discussing differences in health between indigenous women and non-indigenous women living in Australia. Life expectancy, kidney diseases and smoking are 3 different health indicators that have been chosen for the comparison. This essay concludes that life expectancy of women of indigenous population is less than that of non-indigenous women. One of the major reasons behind such differences in life expectancy is limited healthcare facilities. Indigenous women are unable to access basic healthcare facilities because they tend to live in remote areas. Secondly, it can also be concluded from the report that pregnant women who belong to the indigenous population tend to smoke more than that of non-indigenous population. The major reason behind increase in tobacco smoking among Aboriginals and Torres straits islanders is lack of awareness. Women who belong to this community are not aware of negative effects of smoking and how smoking can cause major harm to people. Finally, healthcare inequality among these two groups have been analysed by using chronic kidney disease as the indicator. While analysing, it has been found that Aboriginal women suffering from kidney diseases are hospitalised more than that of women. The findings of the report suggest that, lack of poverty and malnutrition are leading causes behind kidney problems among indigenous population of the country. Thus, from the above discussion it can be concluded that societal factors, lack of awareness and lack of proper infrastructure is creating major health problems among the natives in Australians. Thus, in order to reduce this gap, Australian government must immediately intervene into the matter.


Previously, I was not aware of the health gap that the indigenous and non-indigenous population of the country encounter. Constant research has helped me to understand how aboriginals are grouped as socially disadvantaged population of the country. In my opinion, societal and economic factors are solely responsible for such devastating health inequalities. People who belong to the Aboriginal community are less educated and have lack of employability skills. This further prevents them from getting access to basic jobs. This is how the rate of unemployment among this group of people is increasing. With the increase in unemployment and poverty, indigenous Australians cannot access basic healthcare facilities. This is increasing the healthcare gap between the indigenous and the non-indigenous.

While researching on this topic, I was utterly shocked to know about healthcare inequalities that people within Australia are facing. In my opinion, this research study can contribute to my growth and help me to become an effective social worker. I feel that cultural differences between the two group of Australians is one of the leading causes behind such gap. As a social worker, I have got an overview of reasons that are affecting the health conditions of these native Australians. I along with my team members can work on these factors and can focus on making their lives better. This is how Australia can encounter a reduction in gap in healthcare.


AIHW, 2022a. Determinants of health for Indigenous Australians. Retrieved from

AIHW, 2022b. Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia. Retrieved from

AIHW, 2023. Kidney disease. Retrieved from,1%2C000%20population%20(crude%20rate).

Australian Government, 2020. Closing The Gap Report 2020. Retrieved from

Australian Government, 2023a. Status and determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Retrieved from

Australian Government, 2023b. Life expectancy and mortality. Retrieved from

Korff, J. 2022. Aboriginal life expectancy. Retrieved from,remember%20that%20it%20differs%20regionally.

Korff, J. 2023. Kidney disease among Aboriginal people. Retrieved from,access%20to%20good%20food%2C%20substandard

NSW Health, 2023. Aboriginal communities and smoking. Retrieved from,leaving%20school%20early%20and%20unemployment


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