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Research and report on the specific risks to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who are at risk of underweight and nutrition deficiencies.
In 2012 the Australian government, in the shape of the Commissioner for Children and Young People, stated that the proportion of children and young people among Aborigines in Western Australia was double that of the white population. The Aborigines had lower life expectations and so these youngsters had an ‘accelerated life course’ with negative implications for both their wealth and wellbeing. Gaps between wellbeing between the two groups, white and aboriginal, could be seen at every stage of life. Because so many adults die young, a high proportion of children are cared for away from home, although in 2013 the Australian Institute of Family Studies put many problems down to child neglect, often by parents, who do not provide adequate food. The poor diet would result in poor immune systems, and anaemia, and opens these children up to diseases which they would be able to overcome more easily if well fed.
In 2000 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council report on nutrition in these children , even from birth , when , on average, smaller birth weights are recorded. This is put down to prenatal malnutrition, and this is then linked to the likelihood of the person developing infections, as well as a number of debilitating non-communicable conditions. The traditional and long established diet of these people is described ( page 35, 2000). The report goes on to describe how a transition has been made to a more western diet, but this is often of poor quality and inadequate, made worse by the isolation of these people. The food is also low in fat, which was an important component of the more traditional diet. The available western diets supplied were high in carbohydrates and meat, with less fruit and vegetables. Among those living on reserves diets were found to be low in Vitamins B and C, as well as calcium.
It is known that those with the lowest incomes have the poorest diet ( ANHMRC, page 53, 2000) and these children are certainly at the bottom of the pile. Until matters are equalised as far as incomes and society are concerned, then matters will not improve.
Australian Institute of Family Studies, Child protection and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, 2013, 8th May 2014, http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/a142117/
Commissioner for Children and Young People , The mental health and wellbeing of children and young people: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and Young People, October 2012, 7th May 2014 <> http://www.ccyp.wa.gov.au/files/POLICY%20BRIEFS%202013/Policy%20Brief%20-%20Mental%20health%20-%20Aboriginal%20children%20and%20young%20people.PDF
National Health and Medical Research Council, 2000, 7th May 2014, <http://www.diabetesqld.org.au/media/26269/dietary_guidelines_for_atsi.pdf>
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