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Keywords:

  • injuries;
  • Australian Aborigines;
  • violence;
  • family violence;
  • rural health;
  • socio-economic factors

Abstract

Objective: To compare the incidence of injury-related hospitalisations and the injury profiles for interpersonal violence, in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations of Australia.

Method: Descriptive analysis of the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD), using data for the Northern Territory, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland for the period 1 July 1999 to 30 June 2004.

Results: Indigenous people were twice as likely as non-Indigenous people to be hospitalised for injury (age-standardised rate ratio [SRR] 2.26, 95% CI 2.24–2.29), and had a 17-fold greater hospitalisation rate for interpersonal violence (SRR, 16.9, 95% CI 16.6–17.3). Indigenous males and females were most commonly injured by a family member or intimate partner and females constituted 54% of Indigenous cases. Most non-Indigenous cases were males (82%), most commonly injured by stranger(s). Head injuries by bodily force were the most frequent injuries. Age-standardised hospitalisation rates of interpersonal violence increased with remoteness of usual residence for Indigenous people and, less so, for others.

Conclusion: The largest differential between Indigenous and non-Indigenous injury-related hospitalisations was for interpersonal violence, particularly for women. About half the excess morbidity from interpersonal violence among Indigenous people is due to factors associated with remote living.

Implications: Culturally appropriate interventions that tackle a wide range of social and economic issues are needed to mitigate Indigenous interpersonal violence.