Aborigine life expectancy lowest: UN


Australia's Aborigines have the worst life expectancy rates of any indigenous population in the world, a United Nations report has revealed.

Of the 90 countries examined by the report, indigenous people in Australia and Nepal fared the worst, dying 20 years earlier than their non-indigenous counterparts.

In New Zealand the life expectancy gap is 11 years and in Guatemala it is 13 years.

The UN report, State of the World's Indigenous Peoples, shows how indigenous populations across the world face violence, continuing assimilation policies, marginalisation, forced removal, relocation and are denied land rights on a daily basis.

Indigenous people experience disproportionately high levels of maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, cardiovascular illnesses, and HIV and other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner Tom Calma says the report also reveals alarming statistics relating to poverty, education, employment, human rights and the environment.

He says Australia is not immune from the challenges and issues raised in the report.

"In recent years, as a nation, we have taken some giant steps forward in relation to our indigenous peoples," Calma says.

"However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples remain marginalised in Australia and face entrenched poverty and ongoing discrimination on a daily basis.

"We will not have provided solutions to all the challenges we face until indigenous people have true participation and are real partners in efforts to close the gap in health, education, housing and have access to the same human rights protections as other Australians."

The UN report states that 370 million people, or about 5% of the world's inhabitants, are indigenous.

Indigenous people constitute about one-third of the world's 900 million extremely poor rural people.

Suicide rates of indigenous people are considerably higher in many countries, particularly in Canada where suicide among Inuits is up to 11 times higher than the national average.

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