In the 1980s infectious disease rates for remote Aboriginal children were extremely high. In children under 2 years of age, invasive pneumococcal disease rates in central Australia, an important child health problem, were the highest reported in the world literature and 30-40 times the rate for Caucasian Australian children (5). Although these rates have improved markedly since then, infectious disease overall remains a major health problem for Aboriginal children in remote regions O’Grady (2010) has shown that rates of acute respiratory infection in NT Aboriginal children are as high as any reported internationally (6). Ear disease remains highly prevalent with approximately 90% of young children having abnormal middle ears (7). Overall rates of hospital admission for infectious disease in children in remote Australia remain very high (8)
There are very few studies of infectious disease rates in regional and urban populations. However it is likely that even in urban centres the disease burden is still higher than for non-Aboriginal children.
Chronic disease associated with the metabolic syndrome: cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, renal failure, hypertension rates are all very high, and the major contributors to mortality.(9,10)
The third major disease problem is in mental health, substance abuse and family violence. (9,10)