This study examines data from 15,172 episodes of hospitalization pertaining to Aboriginal Australians discharged from public and private hospitals in New South Wales during 1978. Morbidity patterns revealed provide quantitative evidence on a whole population basis for the often impressionistic statements of those dealing with limited areas or with specific diseases.
Respiratory diseases are by far the most common and their occurrence seems to be out of proportion in relation to other diagnoses. Gastrointestinal and diarrhoeal diseases are important among young children, alcoholism among men, and diabetes among older people of both sexes. The most common surgical procedures involved abdomen, female genitals and ear, nose and throat.
It was noted that for most disease categories Aborigines were more likely to be hospitalized than non-Aborigines, the major exception being neoplasms. On the other hand, Aborigines were significantly less likely to be hospitalized for surgical operations. Overall, Aborigines were found to suffer higher levels of ill-health primarily due to their depressed economic conditions and social exclusion as well as racial discrimination to which they are commonly subjected in Australia.