A new study by Monash University aims to address a higher risk of bone fractures for Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander people — and eligible Echuca-Moama community members are being encouraged to take
Indigenous men are 50 per cent and women 26 per cent more likely to experience a hip fracture and at a much
younger age than non-Indigenous men and women.
Researcher Dr Ayse Zengin was in Echuca on Wednesday, June 23, to discuss the Study of Indigenous Muscle
and Bone Ageing at Nyini Health and Wellness Centre.
“Hospital data shows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people fracture much more than non-Indigenous
people, but we don’t understand why,” Dr Zengin said.
“The end goal of the study is to increase muscle and bone health awareness for Aboriginal and Torres Strait
It’s also hoped the study could influence health policy. Osteoporosis, a disease that causes weak and brittle
bones prone to fracture, is diagnosed by a DXA bone density scan, which Medicare covers for people aged 70
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a life expectancy about 12 to 15 years below non-Indigenous
Australians — they could miss out automatically because a lot of people don’t reach the age of 70,” Dr Zengin
“Hopefully with the larger study we can get the data required to go to policymakers and get another criteria for
the free DXA scan so if you’re an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged maybe 50 or 60 years old.”
Viney Morgan Aboriginal Medical Service chronic care co-ordinator Mick Cannon has six patients enrolled in
“What I know through my role is the stronger people are, the less likely they’re going to have falls and if they do
fall, they’re less likely to have a fracture,” he said.
“We’ve been running an exercise program at Cummeragunja for about six months and we’ve only had one fall
with our patients in that time, as opposed to several falls throughout the year.
“Strong bone health leads to increase independence, social activity and improved mental health.”
Aunty Maureen Atkinson is one of 10 participants in the program at Cummeragunja.
The 76-year-old enjoys her twice-a-week gym sessions and once weekly hydrotherapy.
“I was having a lot of problems and thought, I want to be around for my grandchildren,” she said.
Dr Zengin is looking for more participants to take part in the study, with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
people aged 35 or older encouraged to contact 0492 467 012.