• Indigenous Queenslanders smoke at more than double the rate of non-Indigenous Queenslanders. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the results of Australia’s first ever national Indigenous health survey.
27 Nov 2013 - 5:15 PM  UPDATED 27 Nov 2013 - 6:55 PM

According to the survey results, Indigenous smoking rates are declining in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

"Smoking rates have declined since 2002, so they’ve come down from 51 per cent to 41 per cent. This is a really major impact on smoking rates and a major impact on long term health," says the Australian Bureau of Statistics Head of Health, Dr Paul Jelfs.

"What we've also seen is more people not taking up smoking, particularly young people. That’s a really major impact."

While the reductions in smoking rates were encouraging, there are other areas of Indigenous health where progess has been deteriorating.

"Obesity rates have really increased. For the first time in this survey we've actually been able to physically measure people; their height, their weight, and by looking at that information we’ve found that about 40 per cent of women and about 34 per cent of men are obese," says Dr Jelfs.

Both areas are critical in reducing the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NAACHO) believes perseverance is needed to close the existing gap.

"The work has been done, let’s keep going, but we’ve still really got to go harder at what we're doing,” says NACCHO Chairperson Justin Mohamed.