Time to close the gap in the rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment
In releasing its Indigenous Health Report Card 2015 at Parliament House in Canberra this week, the AMA has called on all Australian governments to commit to setting a target for closing the gap in the rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment.
The AMA Report Card 2015 was launched on Wednesday by the Minister for Rural Health, Senator Fiona Nash, and highlights the alarmingly high and increasing rates of Indigenous incarceration – and the devastating effects that imprisonment has on the lifelong health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who spend time in prison.
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. He also said the Report Card recognises that shorter life expectancy and poorer overall health for Indigenous Australians is most definitely linked to prison and incarceration.
“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 a part of an integrated effort to reduce Indigenous imprisonment rates,” Professor Owler said.