Childhood disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: A literature review

Michelle Digiacomo, Patricia M. Davidson, Penelope Abbott, Patricia Delaney, Tessa Dharmendra, Sarah J. McGrath, Joanne Delaney, Frank Vincent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Introduction. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have higher rates of disability than non-Indigenous children and are considered doubly disadvantaged, yet there is very little data reflecting prevalence and service access to inform design and delivery of services. Failing to address physical, social, and psychological factors can have life-long consequences and perpetuate longstanding health disparities. Methods. A narrative literature review was undertaken to identify peer reviewed literature describing factors impacting on the prevention, recognition, and access to support and management of disability in Indigenous Australian children. Results: Twenty-seven peer-reviewed journal articles met inclusion criteria. The majority of articles focused on the hearing loss and learning disabilities consequent of otitis media. Few articles reported data on urban or metropolitan Indigenous populations or described interventions. Individual/community-, provider-, and systems level factors were identified as impacting on recognition and management of disability in young Indigenous children. Conclusions: Given the burden of childhood disability, the limited literature retrieved is concerning as this is a barometer of activity and investment. Solutions addressing childhood disability will require collaboration between health, social and educational disciplines as well as an increased investment in prevention, identification and promotion of access.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalInternational journal for equity in health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal and Torres strait islander
  • Childhood
  • Disability
  • Early intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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