Chronic disease in Aboriginal communities
Aboriginal people living in New South Wales (NSW), represent approximately 2.2% of the total population and 29% of the total Australian Aboriginal population . While many people living in NSW have experienced significant health gains in recent years, these improvements have not been equally shared by Aboriginal people who continue to experience greater health risks, poorer health and shorter life expectancies than non- Aboriginal people.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics is using a new methodology for estimating Aboriginal life expectancy from birth. This methodology provides different estimates to the previously published 17 year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. At a national level for 2005-2007, life expectancy for Aboriginal men is estimated to be 11.5 years less than life expectancy for non-Aboriginal men. For Aboriginal women, life expectancy is estimated to be 9.7 years less than for non-Aboriginal women. It is important to note that this new estimate does not represent an improvement of six years, but rather a different method of calculating life expectancy.
The greater morbidity and premature mortality rates can be significantly attributable to the disproportionately high burden of chronic conditions in Aboriginal people, including heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease and diabetes.
The Aboriginal hospitalisation rates included in the NSW Chief Health Officer 2008 Summary Report  further highlights the poor health status of Aboriginal people in NSW. Compared to non-Aboriginals, hospitalisation rates for Aboriginal people in NSW are:
• 140% higher for conditions for which hospitalisations can be avoided through prevention and early management
• 40% higher for cardiovascular diseases
• 210% higher for diabetes• 230% higher for chronic respiratory diseases
 Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: New South Wales 2004-05.
ABS Cat. No. 4715.1.55.005. Canberra: ABS, 2006. Available at www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/4715.1.55.005
 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010. Cat no 3302.0.55.003 - Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
 Population Health Division. The health of the people of New South Wales - Report of the Chief Health Officer. Sydney: NSW
Department of Health. Available at www.health.nsw.gov.au/publichealth/chorep/
 Population Health Division 2008. The Health of the people of New South Wales - Report of the Chief Health Officer 2008. Summary
Report. Sydney: NSW Department of Health.