Indigenous health improving, report shows

INDIGENOUS health is improving around the nation, with maternal drinking and smoking falling marginally, but it still has a long way to go, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed on Friday.

The Healthy for Life report showed rises in average birth weight and the percent of indigenous Australians getting regular health assessments.

But while some indicators had improved, the number of indigenous people getting health assessments remained low in several states.

In Queensland and the Northern Territory, 20.4% and 21.3% of the indigenous population got regular health assessments.

But the same indicator for South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania and Western Australia, showed all regions had less than 10% of all indigenous people were getting regular health checks.

The institute's Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman said, overall, there had been several improvements, with the proportion of babies with normal birth weight rose from 80% to 84.2%, while those with low birth weight fell from 15.2% to 13.5%.

Alcohol was also consumed by 17.9% of women in the third trimester of pregnancy in 2011 - a fall from 21.4% since 2008.

Among mothers, there was a very small drop in the proportion who smoked during the third trimester of pregnancy, from 53.4% to 52.4% between 2008 and 2011.