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Patterns of mortality in Indigenous adults in the Northern Territory, 1998–2003: are people living in remote areas worse off?

David J Scrimgeour
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (10): 545.

To the Editor: I read with interest the article by Andreasyan and Hoy,1 in which lower Aboriginal mortality rates were found in “very remote areas” compared with “remote areas” in the Northern Territory. In a previous article,2 I reported a similar finding from national data, based on information published by the Public Health Information Development Unit at the University of Adelaide.3 Thirty years ago, in this Journal, Morice outlined the health benefits that accrue for Aboriginal people moving away from larger settlements to live in smaller, decentralised communities where they can care for their country.4 There is an increasing literature to demonstrate that Aboriginal people living in smaller communities have better health than those living in larger settlements and regional towns.

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  • David J Scrimgeour

  • Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


  • 1. Andreasyan K, Hoy W. Patterns of mortality in Indigenous adults in the Northern Territory, 1998–2003: are people living in remote areas worse off? Med J Aust 2009; 190: 307-311. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Scrimgeour D. Town or country: which is best for Australia’s Indigenous peoples? Med J Aust 2007; 186: 532-533. <MJA full text>
  • 3. Glover J, Tennant S, Page A. The impact of socioeconomic status and geographic location on Indigenous mortality in Australia 1997–1999. Occasional Paper Series: No. 1. Adelaide: Public Health Information Development Unit, 2004: 40.
  • 4. Morice R. Woman dancing dreaming: psychosocial benefits of the Aboriginal outstation movement. Med J Aust 1976; 2: 939-942.
  • 5. Johns G. No job no house: an economically strategic approach to remote Aboriginal housing. Canberra: Menzies Research Centre, 2009. http://www.mrcltd.org.au/research/indigenous-reports/No_Job_No_House.pdf (accessed Mar 2009).
  • 6. Australian Broadcasting Commission. Vanstone says remote Indigenous communities becoming “cultural museums”. AM [radio program], 9 Dec 2005. http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1527233.htm (accessed Mar 2009).
  • 7. Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage: the challenge for Australia. http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/indigenous/pubs/general/documents/closing_the_gap/p3.htm (accessed Mar 2009, link updated May 2009).
  • 8. Rudd K. Address to heads of agencies and members of senior executive service, Great Hall, Parliament House, Canberra. 30 Apr 2008. http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Speech/2008/speech_0226.cfm (accessed Mar 2009).

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