Sydney.– A coalition of Australian churches has set an ambitious goal – to eradicate poverty among Aborigines by 2015.
The National Council of Churches in Australia doesn't expect to reach the target, but Graeme Mundine says it's important to have goals.
Mr Mundine travelled to Canberra this week to meet with federal politicians and promote the Make Indigenous Poverty History campaign.
"While we're sitting here, my brothers, my uncles, my aunts are all passing away from diseases that should not be killing these people," he told a small gathering of MPs and reporters.
Every Australian needs to take personal responsibility for the state of indigenous affairs, he said.
"Indigenous affairs isn't in the right place ... It's Australia's shame that indigenous people are the way they are."
Seventy per cent of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders die before the age of 65, compared with only 20 per cent of non-indigenous Australians.
Death rates among infants and children remain about three times higher than for other Australians, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, injury and cancer are the five leading causes of death among indigenous people, and are responsible for nearly three-quarters of deaths.
The National Council of Churches in Australia launched its indigenous poverty campaign last year, but there was a poor showing by politicians at its forum in Canberra on Wednesday.
A smattering of Labor MPs turned up, along with Independent MP Peter Andren.
Mr Mundine, the executive secretary of the Sydney-based National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission, said church groups had sought meetings with government representatives this week, to no avail.
Indigenous Affairs minister Mal Brough said it was important to open up indigenous communities to economic opportunities to combat poverty.