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Social Determinants of Health and Indigenous Health Challenges

Discuss about the Collection And Analysis Of An Indigenous Health And Well Being.

Our health is determined by the way we choose to live our lives and by the state of our environment. The choices we make may include smoking, drinking alcohol, having our children immunized against preventable diseases, regular visits to the doctor for a checkup, healthy eating just to mention but a few. The World Health Organization describes social determinants of health as the circumstances in which people grow, live, work, and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness. This paper discusses the importance of considering the social determinants of health. Indigenous health challenges are caused by a number of factors including the type of housing, level of education, racism and discrimination, employment opportunities as well as environmental factors. The paper further analyses into details four media articles; discrimination of Indigenous people in Australia, the high level of unemployment among the Aboriginals, health inequalities between the Indigenous and non-indigenous, violence in Indigenous communities and consequently their impact on the challenge of racism on the Indigenous people on Australia. The living conditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia is comparable to many other minorities throughout the world who are discriminated and looked down upon. The discrimination happens to any non-native minority individuals living in a majority ruled environment.

The Indigenous Australian population has higher levels of poor health and mortality rates than the non-indigenous population. Research indicates that the poverty, as well as the disadvantage suffered by the indigenous people, is as a result of historical and contemporary racism colonialism and oppression. The Australian law guarantees freedom from ethnic discrimination its legislation. Despite the elimination of all forms of racism and discrimination in the Australian law, it remains clear that these Indigenous people have poor health compared to other groups. They (Indigenous people) constitute 2.4% of Australian total population but still remain the most disadvantaged, suffering from high unemployment rates, low income, poor housing they are more vulnerable to getting infected with diseases due to exposure to risk factors (Garvey, 2017).

Racism occurs on three levels; the first is Internalized racism, which is accepted attitude, beliefs and ideologies by the stigmatized group that their ethnic/racial group is inferior to the others. Secondly, interpersonal racism which refers to interactions between individuals of the same ethnic group. Finally the third is systemic racism also known as institutional racism, these are practices that maintain avoidable among the different racial groups (Henderson, 2007).

Analysis of Media Articles on Indigenous Challenges in Australia

Racism and discrimination impact high-stress levels and consequently contribute to the feelings of social exclusion on the victims. It leads to unequal access to employment opportunities, health care and access to education. It also contributes to the high level of tobacco, alcohol and other substance abuse. The victims also experience physical abuse and intimidation. All these effects eventually lead to a negative emotional reaction that leads to poor mental health (Duthie et al 2014).

Despite the clear facts about the spread, prevalence and impact of racism, not much can be said to have been done by the government to combat this challenge. The government and citizens have a role to play to combat racism so that all will have equal opportunities and lead happy lives. Among the steps to be taken is advocacy, through conducting programs to promote national leadership. Another strategy is through research and monitoring, the reasons for discrimination and ways of combating them to realize national diversity.

Policies have been introduced to reduce racism among the Indigenous people in Australia these include a two-week television program, whose purpose is to reduce stereotypes and false beliefs about indigenous Australians on employment. A recent study shows that engaging tertiary students in a class with the aim of combating the wrong attitude and stereotype about indigenous Australians played a great role in reducing the false prejudice.

This article has provided adequate knowledge about racism, its prevalence, and impact and how it can be combated. Improved healthcare performance of indigenous Australian is required to address the challenge of systemic racism in healthcare. The Indigenous population needs to be educated and informed about their role and importance in the society so that they may also feel important and not view themselves as less important members of the society. Combating racism is a role to be played by every citizen and it starts with every individual accepting their neighbor regardless of their social status, ethnic or social group.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were traditionally defined as semi-nomadic hunter and gathers. Labor roles were sexually divided where women were gatherers and collectors while men hunted and went out fishing (Krieg, 2016). The arrival of the Europeans in 1788 saw the dispossession of the Aboriginals land. They were alienated from their resources and imposed to settler economy which destroyed their capacity to practice their traditional means of production.  Consequently, the Aborigines are the most disadvantaged group among all ethnic groups in Australia. Indigenous Australians have much lower employment rates than other Australians. Poor health also results in employment levels, this is because they are unable to participate in proper formal education and employment. The effect of the Indigenous poor health is visible where life expectancy at birth for indigenous where indigenous men die 12 years younger than non-indigenous men, while Indigenous women die 10 years younger.  The higher rate of homelessness and overcrowding also impact an individual's ability to look for employment, since people with no stable homes find it hard to look for employment (Krieg, 2016).

Effects of Poverty, Employment and Housing conditions on Indigenous Health

Lack of employment opportunities impacts the lives of indigenous people economically, socially, as well as politically. Once an individual fails to get employed they end up struggling to even put food on the table, they live in poor housing conditions, decent lack proper health care, their children fail to go to school, they die poor and desperate, leaving behind their children and the cycle continues. The cycle of poverty can be broken if the indigenous people can get access to proper formal education, and consequently get employed that way they will be in a position to get themselves and their families out of the traditional state of poverty.

The government aims at increasing the employment rates of Indigenous Australians through a policy that applies to all Australians, both the Indigenous and non-indigenous, and a second one which applies specifically to the Indigenous people. General policies aimed at increasing employment rates include wage subsidy, training programs, indigenous cadetship support, which connects students to employers who can employ them once they graduate. The students are also guaranteed mentorship on how to start and run their own businesses.

There is need to improve the general welfare of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, to empower them to be in charge of their own lives and reduce discrimination against them. They need to feel like Australian citizens, and this can only happen if they are provided equal opportunities for other citizens or more since they have been discriminated for over a long period of time. It all starts with attending school and later acquiring job opportunities. It is possible to get the Indigenous population out of abject poverty if all stakeholders including the government, private sectors, the non-indigenous people and finally the Indigenous all work together to achieve social-economic equity.

This article focuses on the huge difference between the indigenous and non-indigenous individuals. Statistics indicate that 20% of low social economic status in Australia (indigenous people) in the year 2014-2015 were 1.6 times more vulnerable to being infected with at least two chronic illnesses in their lifetime compared to the non-indigenous people. The life expectancy of the low social economic individuals was three times lower compared to their counterparts in the high social economic statuses in the year 2009-2011. Nevertheless, assuming all Australians lived in high economic areas in the period between 2009 and 2011, the overall mortality deaths would have reduced by 13% meaning would have been 54000 fewer deaths. Furthermore, the worst mental illnesses were recorded in the bottom 20% individuals (Stavenhagen, 2014). A high number of employment opportunities restriction was recorded, resulting from a large number of people living with disability in the low social economic areas compared to the higher social economic areas. People in the low social economic areas have a lot of needs to meet with little income, therefore, health is not one of their priorities, they tend to abandon their health and focus on more pressing issues like putting food on the table. Like the saying goes an idle mind is the devil's workshop, the people in low socioeconomic areas are unemployed, they have nothing much to do other than idle around as a result, these areas record a large number of individuals smoking cannabis exposing themselves and those around to more health problems (Markham, 2018).

Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Healthcare

This article highlights the broad difference that exists between the people in high economic areas and those living in low economic areas is those in higher social economic areas value their health receiving regular checkups and eating healthy foods. On the contrary, the individuals in low socioeconomic areas are exposed to more life-threatening conditions and diseases yet to them, putting food on the table and putting on descent clothes happens to be at the top of their priority list at the expense of their health. As earlier stated, these people have a lot of free time on their hands yet they have no jobs they end up smoking cannabis which is harmful to their health and the vicious cycle of poverty continues (Stavenhagen, 2014).

This article raises several interesting facts that need to be addressed currently in order to realize a better future for the youth and the children being born in the low social economic areas. Generally, since these people are at a greater risk of poor health, they have higher rates of illnesses and disability and their life expectancy is lower compared to the more advantaged. There are several things that need to be done to improve their lives, this includes educating the children at a young age. Educational attainment has been suggested as one of the effective ways out of poverty, individuals are equipped with the adequate knowledge to attain stable employment, have a secure income, attain proper housing, and provide for their families as well as the make informed decisions in their lives. Occupation results from getting proper education and results to stable income that generally improves lives and breaks the vicious cycle of poverty.

This article happens to provoke a lot of thoughts. It clearly shows how one problem leads to another and as a result the people in poor social economic end up living miserable lives. From the time a baby is in its mother's womb, it faces challenges like being underweight and after it is born continues to be more vulnerable to diseases like and poor health due to parents ignorance and lack of finances. Nevertheless all this can be solved if the government can provide equal education opportunities for both the poor and the rich, this will ensure that the children being born today will have adequate knowledge in their field of specialization, they will be well informed about healthy eating and proper sanitation and will consequently get their parents out of the indigenous poverty.

Steps to Combat Racism

Housing is one of the major problems affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, and consequently, it leads to domestic fights which continue to worsen by the day. They are overrepresented both as victims and perpetrators of a different kind of violence (Coumarelos et al, 2014).

It is difficult to collect violence-related data in indigenous communities due to their high level of closeness, a good number of incidents go unreported. Sydney Morning Herald states that indigenous people are 20 times more at risk of committing crimes than the rest of the population. Further study indicates that the Aboriginal people are 8.1 times more likely of being victims of homicide. More statistics show that hospitalization as a result of violence in young people is at a rate 2.7 higher for Aboriginal males than non-indigenous people, and 15 times higher for Aboriginal women than non-indigenous women. The violence is among the indigenous people is closely related to alcohol and substance abuse. Between 70 and 90 percent of the crimes were committed under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are more exposed to violence both at home and away from home, as a result, they come into contact with child protection and juvenile justice system more often. Apart from alcohol and substance abuse, other mentioned causes of violence include high levels unemployment and idleness, family breakups and loss of close family members (Coumarelos et al, 2014).

Domestic violence according to the UN report 2005 is the abuse of a weaker member of a household usually women, children and the elderly in form of assault, banishment or rape. It has reached a point where family violence has become so, and acceptable among many Aboriginals. A key component to note about domestic violence is sexual violence and rape which is often silenced by family members. Aboriginal women are ten times more likely to be victims of rape than the non-indigenous women. They are further afraid of reporting these rape cases due to intimidation, fear of the victim being imprisoned, in order to save the relationship of the families of the perpetrator and the victim as well as the shame that accompanies the victim.

The federal government has recently acknowledged the seriousness of family violence and steps have been taken at the federal, state and territorial levels. Domestic violence has been recognized as a great threat to human life, and one which undermines the value of quality living for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) established on 3rd December 2007, its role is to address family violence among the Indigenous individuals. Its main objective is to help in establishing the causes of violence among the Aboriginals as well as assist in reducing and preventing the same.

Improving Welfare of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

World Health Organization defines health as the complete physical, mental and social well-being. Health has to do with the bodily, mental and social quality of life. Individuals cannot lead healthy lives in a violent environment. Children may end up knowing that violence is the normal way of life, which may negatively affect their future lives. Children should be brought up in a friendly environment where problems are solved calmly with no violence, the elderly should also be given an opportunity to age gracefully. Intervention and support programs should be established women shelters, therapy programs and health services need to be created to aid in dealing with indigenous domestic violence.


This paper has generally paid close attention to the problem of racism and discrimination on the indigenous Australian people as a critical social determinant of indigenous health. The four media items which include discrimination of Indigenous people in Australia, high level of unemployment among the Aboriginals, health inequalities between the indigenous and non-indigenous and violence in Indigenous communities discussed into details their impact as social determinants of health. Poverty is not the mere lack of finances it also includes poor social welfare and living conditions. It has been deeply rooted in the community since decent and continues to negatively impact lives. However, this paper has also discussed the way out of poverty through the elimination of racism and empowerment of the Indigenous people.


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