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The age structure of the total Australian population differs markedly from that of the Indigenous Australian population. Children represent a much greater proportion of the Indigenous population and there are relatively few old people. Unlike the population structure of the broader Australian population, the young age structure evident in the Indigenous population more closely resembles patterns observed in developing countries.
Projections for the Indigenous population raise concerns about the persistence of health inequalities in Indigenous communities. In 1996, 3% of Indigenous people were aged 65 years and over compared with 12% of the total Australian population . In 2006, the proportion of older Indigenous people is projected to be at the same level (3%), while the proportion of older people in the total Australian population is expected to rise to 13% . The comparatively youthful Indigenous age structure is largely a product of high rates of fertility and mortality within the Indigenous population . The lower proportion of older Indigenous people reflects their lower life expectancy. Life expectancy of Indigenous people at birth is 15-20 years lower than that of non-Indigenous Australians , in the period 1991-1996 it was about 57 years for males and 62 years for females .