Indigenous mums in Australia face high murder rate

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Image caption Australia's government admits that attempts to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians are falling short

Indigenous Australian women who have children are 17.5 times more likely to be murdered than other mothers, new research says.

Researchers said that the high homicide rates appeared to be a long-standing phenomenon.

Domestic violence, poverty and alcohol abuse were identified as contributing factors in many deaths.

The report also said the level of suicide among Indigenous mothers was high.

Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islanders represent about 2.5% of Australia's 24 million people.

Generations of disadvantage have left the country's Indigenous population with low levels of education and employment. They are more likely to suffer from poor health than other Australians.

The Telethon Kids Institute said more needed to be done to protect Aboriginal mothers from preventable deaths.

"This is a period when children are particularly vulnerable," said the study, published in the BMC Public Health journal.

"Trauma in early life can also lead to onward problems with substance abuse, self-harming, suicide, anti-social behaviour, and other adversities into adulthood."

Researchers said that reducing substance abuse, domestic violence and the persistent marginalisation of Aboriginal people in Australian society were essential to reducing that risk.

"Further investigation is required to understand the reasons for the disparity in external cause mortality between Aboriginal and other mothers," the study concluded.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted in February that government efforts to help improve the lives of indigenous Australians were not on track.

Annual figures confirmed that life expectancy rates of indigenous people had shown little improvement.

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