Journal article

Origins of 'the gap': perspectives on the historical demography of aboriginal victorians

Janet McCalman, Rebecca Kippen, Len Smith, Sandra Silcot



Australia enjoys ninth place out of 190 countries on the United Nations Life Expectancy Index. Aboriginal Australians—as a fourth-world people within a first-world society—rank in the bottom half of the Index, just below Guatemala and Bangladesh. Progress on closing ‘the gap’ in health and wellbeing has been slow, despite initial rapid gains in infant mortality. The barriers are inter-generational trauma, inherited disadvantage, poverty and systemic racism. This paper reports on the Koori Health Research Database, a cradle-to-grave dataset of Aboriginal Victorians from the 1840s. It finds that population recovery after the nadir reached at the end of the nineteenth century, was hindered by h..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Awarded by Swedish Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank the Koori community of Victoria and the reviewers for their very helpful comments. Funding for this project was provided by the Australian Research Council (McCalman; Land and Life: Aborigines, Convicts and Immigrants in Victoria, 1835-1985; DP110102368), the Swedish Research Council (Axelsson, Kukutai, Kippen; Indigenous Health in Transition: a Longitudinal Study of Colonisation, State and the Health of Indigenous Peoples in Sweden, Australia and New Zealand, 1850-2000; 2012-5490) and the Australian National Data Service (Kippen, McCalman, Silcot; Founders and Survivors: Genealogical Connections; AP20). The data are held at the University of Melbourne under the custodianship of the Indigenous Data Network.