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AMA warns that Indigenous Australians suffer health and justice crisis

In The Guardian, 25.11.15, Shalailah Medhora reports that the Australian Medical Association’s ‘Indigenous health report card’ paints stark picture of link between poor health and high rates of imprisonment:

‘Indigenous Australians are enduring a “health and justice crisis”, the Australian Medical Association has warned, as it uses a new report to draw a strong link between poor health and high incarceration rates.

‘Statistics show that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people are on average 13 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Indigenous Australians. Young Indigenous people aged between 10 and 17 are 17 times more likely to be under youth supervision than other Australians. Undiagnosed mental illness and cognitive disabilities such as those arising from foetal alcohol spectrum disorders, as well as drug and alcohol dependence, all add to the increased incarceration rate, the AMA’s “Indigenous health report card” has found.

‘A stint in jail also affects long-term health, the AMA said. “Life expectancy and overall health is most definitely linked to prison and incarceration,” the AMA president, Brian Owler, said. “It’s not just a health problem; it’s not just a law and order problem.”

‘Failing to take an integrated approach to Indigenous health and incarceration rates would see both problems worsen, Owler warned. “It’s just not credible for Australia, one of the world’s richest nations, that we can not solve a health and justice crisis that affects only 3% of our population,” he said. “It’s not credible to hear the excuses, well-meaning and unsupported words from successive governments, both federal, state and territories.”’

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