Shadow Assistant Health Minister, Stephen Jones, and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs, Warren Snowdon, have called on Tony Abbott to address the decline in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes.
New data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals:
- Diet quality is a real problem for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Fruit and vegetable intake is lower and discretionary foods and drinks with minimal nutritional value comprise up 41 per cent of total energy intake.
- More than one in five Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in a household that had run out of food.
- This food shortage rate is six times that of non-Indigenous people.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote areas were more likely than those in non-remote areas to be living in a household that had run out of food and couldn’t afford to buy more.
Stephen Jones said that the figures must be taken seriously by the Abbott Government.
“If Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people cannot access sufficient amounts of nutritious food we will never close the gap on health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health outcomes.
“This is yet further evidence that Tony Abbott must reverse his harsh cuts that are threatening Closing the Gap targets.
“The Government’s Budget of Horrors led to half a billion dollars’ worth of cuts to Closing the Gap programs, including $165 million ripped from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health programs.”
Warren Snowdon said that the Government must act without delay.
“A good start for our so-called Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs would be undoing his cut to the Aboriginal healthy lifestyle program, which sought to reduce risk factors for chronic conditions within the Indigenous community.
“Australia is a first world country and we cannot stand for food inequity amongst our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“If we don’t see improvements in food security and nutrition we won’t see improvements in the quality of life of Indigenous people. Tony Abbott should focus less on his leadership troubles and more on closing the gap to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can look forward to the future with optimism and hope.”