More Aboriginal people live in NSW than in any other Australian state or territory and improving Aboriginal health is a key focus for the NSW health system. In 2011, an estimated 172,621 Aboriginal people were living in NSW, comprising 2.5% of the total population and 31.5% of the total Aboriginal population in Australia. [1] Relatively high numbers of Aboriginal people live in metropolitan Local Health Districts (LHDs), with over 90 per cent of Aboriginal people in NSW living in major cities or inner regional areas. While smaller numbers of Aboriginal people live in outer regional and remote areas, they represent a higher proportion of the population.

The Aboriginal population of NSW is much younger than the non-Aboriginal population, with more than one in three Aboriginal people in NSW being less than 15 years of age, compared with one in five for the non-Aboriginal population. The difference in life expectancy between Aboriginal people in NSW and the general population is estimated to be approximately 7-9 years. [2] The greatest contributors to higher mortality rates and excess deaths experienced by Aboriginal people are chronic disease, in particular cardiovascular disease, mental health, diabetes, cancers, and injury. [3] Further information on the health of Aboriginal people in NSW can be accessed through the Chief Health Officer’s Report and NSW Health Statistics.

NSW Health is committed to working in partnership with Aboriginal people and other government agencies to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal people. This commitment has been formalised in a number of key strategic and policy documents including the NSW Aboriginal Health Plan 2013-2023, the NSW Health Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal PeopleStatement of Intent and the  NSW Aboriginal Health Partnership Agreement 2015-2025.

The NSW Aboriginal Health Plan 2013-2023 (the Plan) will direct the efforts of NSW Health in relation to Aboriginal health over t​​he next ten years, and will be implemented through all relevant NSW Health organisations. The Plan will be a catalyst to drive health system changes, which will be needed to ensure that in ten years’ time health outcomes, have improved and the health system is more effective in delivering health services to Aboriginal people. Six strategic directions within the Plan identify the areas where NSW Health will direct efforts to best achieve the highest level of health possible for Aboriginal individuals, families and communities through:

  • Building trust through partnerships
  • Implementing what works and building the evidence
  • Integrated planning and service delivery
  • Strengthening the Aboriginal workforce
  • Providing culturally safe work environments and health services
  • Strengthening performance monitoring, management and accountability

The Plan was developed in partnership with the peak body for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services within NSW, the Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW (AH&MRC), in consultation with a range of key stakeholders.

The Statement of Commitment, originally signed on Sorry Day, 26 May 2010, is an acknowledgment of regret over past practices and policies which have impacted on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal people and their health. The Statement acknowledges a number of key commitments made by NSW Health in relation to addressing Aboriginal health.

Within NSW Health, the Centre for Aboriginal Health is responsible for policy development, strategic planning and funding of programs to improve the health status of Aboriginal people in NSW.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2011. 2002.0 Census of Population and Housing: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (Indigenous) Profile.
  2. [ABS] Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2009. Experimental Life Tables for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, 2005–2007. ABS. cat. no. 3302.0.55.003. Available at:​ accessed on 21/11/12.
  3. Vos T, Barker B, Begg S, Stanley L, Lopez AD. 2009. Burden of disease and injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: the Indigenous health gap. Int J Epidemiol 38:47
Page Updated: Wednesday 15 February 2017