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Determinants Of Health: Health Behaviours

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Discuss about the Determinants of Health for Health Behaviours.




Since the time of colonisation, the indigenous tribes of Australia comprising of the aboriginals as well as the Torres Strait islander have faced severe discrimination. All over the years, the exploitation had increased and there had been fewer initiatives taken on the basis of humanity to make their lives better. However governments have always tried to provided the best services to them so that they can overcome different barriers and develop healthy living. However, many such imitative have been in vain and had been able to do very little in order to overcome the stigmatisation faced by them. Researchers have come with different determinants that have huge impacts on the lives of the people and how they have been affecting their health living (Decesare et al., 2013). The governmental authorities should look over these data and plan out policies addressing them to make their lives better.


Health Behaviours and Lifestyles of the Indigenous Australians:

Health behaviours and lifestyles of the indigenous Australians are one of the most important contributing factors that results in poor health condition of the groups of people. Their culture supports the smoking to be an integral part of their tradition. Besides, poor nutrition has been one the factors that have mainly resulted in poor economic condition of the people as well as due to the poor development of education in such people. Beside a trend of being physically inactive is very common among the indigenous people who had thereby made them vulnerable to different diseases like obesity, diabetes and others. Another important habit that often results in poor quality life is the consumption of alcohol at a higher rate and as a regular basis and this is inculcated within their culture. Statistical data suggests that smoking is the most harmful habit that they are harbouring among themselves and therefore their rate is also found to higher than the number of smokers in non-indigenous Australians. This fact can be supported by the statistical data which suggests that two individuals in every five indigenous Australians aged over 15 are smokers. It also stated that current daily smokers in 2012 to 2013 accounted for about 41% which is indeed a larger position of the population (WHO, 2014). Moreover smoking rate is also found to be higher among indigenous people of the age group 25 to 34 that the same cohort of the non – indigenous people. In case of alcohol consumption, it is ground that indigenous people drink alcohol which is 4 times higher than the limit of safety set by the Australian health guidelines. Moreover the National physical activities guidelines for the Australians suggest at lead moderate activity of thirty minutes which needed to be done five days a week. This is in turn believed to reduce the risk of occurrence of cardiovascular disease as well as cancers and type 2 diabetes. However when survey were conducted in the different areas of australi showed that about 71% of the indigenous people of the age 15 and above that are sedebtery who perform less than 100 minutes of exercise or no exercise at all. Even those who perform exercise reaches to a maximum limit of 100 to 1600 minutes (McCabe et al., 2015). Categorisation showed that the indigenous people mainly be divided according to work levels which included 5% of high kevel, 24% of moderate level, 25% of low level and 46% of sedentary level. Moreover present data also shows that non-indigenous people above the age of 15 are about 1.3 times more likely to be affected than the non-indigenous counterparts in the case of obesity as well as being overweight (Baum and Fischer, 2014). Mainly their improper diet as inactive physical life is the main contributors to their obesity.


Racial Discrimination:

Racial discrimination or racism can often be defined as the behaviour, attitudes, practices and assumption that results the society to unfairly or negatively generalise about a group of people demarking about what they can or cannot do and this feeling of the society depends entirely on the race (Cunningham and Paradise, 2013). Besides, interpersonal racism, systemic racism is another harsh side of the society that causes individuals as well as groups depending upon a race to effectively exclude them from various social as well as economic opportunities. This ultimately results in limiting them from their capability to get access to different services that also included health services, education as well as employment opportunities. Colonisation had a very harsh impact on the indigenous people and even now people are forcefully removing them from their own country with the help of violence resulting in an altogether impact called the intergenerational trauma (Boyle, 2017). Researchers have stated that how racism had resulted in developing a range of impact on the mental health of the people. This mental health disorders have included psychological distress, depression as well as anxiety. The people also suffer from high blood pressure and different types of cardiovascular diseases (Spence et al., 2016). Another important effect found as a result of this discrimination is infant low birth weight. Many researchers also directly link the aspect of racism with that of the unhealthy behaviours which include substance abuse, cigarette and alcohol. Psychosocial outcomes often include reduction in their self esteem, reduces self control as well as low self efficacy. They feel that they are being left out and also feel avoided. Both direct and indirect racism makes them feels socially excluded. Reports that have been prepared by the Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR) have stated after a thorough research that about 75% of the Torres Strait islander as well as the Aboriginal people experience racial discrimination when they try to access primary health care. Sequentially it also affects an individuals’ willingness as well as his abilities to come forward with an open mind and gain access to different types of other services (Ferdinand, Paradies and Kelaner, 2015). Not only that, racism is also found to have different effects on individual’s social cohesion and also affect their levels of productivity of workforce and also in education achievement. Moreover such racial discrimination makes them less confident and thereby results in higher rates of absenteeism, lowered productivity as well as overall low overall workplace morale. This in turn results in increased cost of healthcare along with social care costs. Therefore on the ground off humanity and living in a nation that believes in equal rights of every individual ensuring that the racial discrimination against such people is addressed and effective steps are taken to ensure health equality and health equity.



Education is now perceived as an integral part of growing up from child to young adulthood and it even stays with an individual until old age. The famous statement proved by researchers over years of study states that higher education levels have greater contribution to that of the health of population and this is measured in terms of the years of formal schooling as well as adult literacy rates (Parker and Milroy, 2014). Reports have suggested that non indigenous people like the aboriginals and the Torres islanders have the trend of receiving much less formal schooling than the non indigenous counterparts (Sprianovic et al., 2014). Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Tropical Health (CRCATH) had conducted extensive research and had been successful to find out that there exists a education- health well being link hypothesis that mainly acts as the social determinant of health in the indigenous people. Report proposed by the Australian Parliament with the name of the National Report on the Indigenous education and complied by the Australian Bureau of statistics showed that Department of Education and Training and Youth Affairs and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research had mainly divided the education in four important sectors called the preschool education, primary education, junior education as well as senior secondary education (Dandy et al., 2015). The other sector is the vocational education and training and also higher education. They have stated that although certain participation is found in the other sectors but the vocational section of training is very poor with nearly no attendance at all. Moreover this rate is also low in comparison to that of the non indigenous sector. Researchers have also marked that the inequalities in education is much more marked in the junior and secondary education than in the preschool and the primary education. This is however extremely high in the higher education sector. Again the schooling in remote area is much lesser than other accessible areas of the group. A link that is found with this level of illiteracy is that the individuals with lesser knowledge and low level of literacy have improper childhood development in mental and cognitive factors. This in turn affects their employment life as they are not efficient enough with lesser knowledge and is not recruited in better positions (Eades, 2015). As a result their income remains low. Thus we see income inequality in comparison with non indigenous people ultimately faces depression, frustrations, and various shortfalls in quality lives. As they have poorer education, they have less health literacy and therefore they have no ideas about the proper and safer lifestyles that will help them to live quality life. Poor mother health during pregnancy, ill effects of teenage pregnancy, higher infant mortality rate, lack of nutrition in diet, including of calorie rich diet are all outcomes of improper knowledge. Lack of proper education thereby becomes determinant of health when such occurrences are comparatively low for non-indigenous Australians.



Housing and different health related an infrastructure has a potential role on determining the health of individuals. A large number of aspects often become responsible to determine whether a particular house becomes suitable to live or not. These include proper supply of water which should both only be adequate but should also be safe. It also includes proper access to electricity, sewerage and drainage system and also different rubbish collection. Often the occurrence of indoor pollution and the level of different chemical present within the household also becomes one of the determinant factors for the quality of life (Anderson et al., 2016). However all the above mentioned categories are not properly maintained in the household system of the indigenous people. The physical environment surrounding the households have a very negative impact on the health of the people and is responsible for the occurrence of many infectious diseases mainly due to the absence of functional health hardware and include parasitic diseases which causes diarrhoea diseases as well as rheumatic fever (Melody et al., 2016). Moreover it also causes eye and ear infections, infections of the respiratory tract as well as skin conditions. Like that of the non indigenous people, no potential health development occurred in these communities in the indigenous communities. Indigenous people are found to be suffering from the problems of the overcrowded houses, inadequate sanitation as well as the water supply as well as high housing cost in comparison to their low income (McDonald, Baille and Morris, 2014). Substandard as well as poorly maintained housing along with that of the lack of functioning infrastructure often result in different risks and impact the people in either the direct or indirect ways. The direct effect led to degradation of the quality of the physical health and the direct means included improper water supply, overcrowding and improper washing facilities. From inadequate material conditions, different issues in mental health occurs along with affecting the well being of the households for several social issues. Other indirect means of for poor health are the community and also individual elements like location of their dwellings, overall functioning of the community and most importantly closeness to important services. Overcrowding also leads to conditions like impacts on children, skin infections, mental health issues and also meningitis. Overcrowding provides stress to water supply and sewage disposal systems. Life stressors get increased which leads to community social problems as well as harmful alcohol use (Hotezz, 2014). Consumption of poor water quality leads to typhoid fever, diarrhoea, gastroenteritis as well hepatitits. Moreover diseases like giardiasis and dysentery is also common. Inappropriate disposal of wastes often leads to contamination by rotavirus, Shigella, salmonella, e.coli and others. Flooding and stagnant water in many report areas also destroy quality lives in patient.


Government of Australia had initiated a number of initiatives that would help to address the different determinants of health of the indigenous people so that they can lead better quality lives just like their non-indigenous counterparts. Some of the important determinate of health that have huge impact on the lives of such groups are health and lifestyle, housing and accommodation, education as well as the racial discrimination. These factors affect both the metal and physical health of different people extensively. Initiatives taken by the government had not been fruitful enough and in many cases have failed miserable. Therefore the government should ensure that future projects that it conduct would not only maintain health equality but also should make sure that they can experience health equity as well.



Andersen, M. J., Williamson, A. B., Fernando, P., Redman, S., and Vincent, F. 2016. “There’sa housing crisis going on in Sydney for Aboriginal people”: focus group accounts of housing and perceived associations with health. BMC public health, 16(1), 429.

Baum, F., and Fisher, M. 2014. Why behavioural health promotion endures despite its failure to reduce health inequities. Sociology of health and illness, 36(2), 213-225.

Boyle, P. 2017. Defeat of bid to weaken Racial Discrimination Act a win against racists. Green Left Weekly, (1132), 5.

Cunningham, J., and Paradies, Y. C. 2013. Patterns and correlates of self-reported racial discrimination among Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults, 2008–09: analysis of national survey data. International journal for equity in health, 12(1), 47.

Dandy, J., Durkin, K., Barber, B. L., and Houghton, S. 2015. Academic expectations of Australian students from Aboriginal, Asian and Anglo backgrounds: Perspectives of teachers, Trainee-teachers and students. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 62(1), 60-82.

Di Cesare, M., Khang, Y. H., Asaria, P., Blakely, T., Cowan, M. J., Farzadfar, F., ... and Oum, S. 2013. Inequalities in non-communicable diseases and effective responses. The Lancet, 381(9866), 585-597.

Eades, S. 2015. Recent Research Addressing Health Inequalities among Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. International Journal of Epidemiology, 44(suppl_1), i33-i33.

Ferdinand, A. S., Paradies, Y., and Kelaher, M. 2015. Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Australian culturally and linguistically diverse communities: a cross-sectional survey. BMC public health, 15(1), 401.

Hotez, P. J. 2014. Aboriginal populations and their neglected tropical diseases. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 8(1), e2286.

McCabe, M. P., Mellor, D., Ricciardelli, L. A., Mussap, A. J., and Hallford, D. J. 2015. Ecological model of Australian indigenous men’s health. American journal of men's health, 1557988315583086.

McDonald, E. L., Bailie, R. S., and Morris, P. S. 2014. Participatory systems approach to health improvement in Australian Aboriginal children. Health promotion international, dau003.

Melody, S. M., Bennett, E., Clifford, H. D., Johnston, F. H., Shepherd, C. C. J., Alach, Z., ... and Zosky, G. R. 2016. A cross-sectional survey of environmental health in remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. International journal of environmental health research, 26(5-6), 525-535.

Parker, R., and Milroy, H. 2014. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health: an overview. Working together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing principles and practice. 2nd ed. Canberra: Department of The Prime Minister and Cabinet, 25-38.

Spence, N. D., Wells, S., Graham, K., and George, J. 2016. Racial discrimination, cultural resilience, and stress. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 61(5), 298-307.

Sprianovic, C., Clare, J., Bartels, L., Clare, M., and Clare, B. 2014. Aboriginal young people in the children's court of Western Australia: Findings from the national assessment of Australian children's courts. UW Austl. L. Rev., 38, 86.

World Health Organization. 2014. Global status report on alcohol and health 2014. World Health Organization.

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