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Health Care Access In The Australian Society

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Discuss about the Health Care Access in the Australian Society.




In the past years, historical and cultural issues have shaped access to health care in the contemporary Australian society. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are some of the communities that have been affected by these issues, which have negatively affected their access to health care. Colonization and many years of negative social policies have had a negative impact on the family life of this community resulting to historical separation and marginalization in health care. Their traditions and culture practices have led to discrimination and racism significantly contributed to poor or inequitable access to healthcare services. Having this in mind, the essay will discuss how the historical and cultural issues have shaped access in health care in the modern Australian society.  

Cultural Issues

Communication is the main cultural issue that has shaped access to healthcare in Australia. Communication difficulties because of cultural difference between the indigenous patient and the now- indigenous health care provider have been a barrier to access to health care services. Effective communication could only be possible if the patient and the health care providers share the same culture. Miscommunication has also influenced the health research, planning, and medical implementations. The common barrier to communication is the lack of interpreter from the indigenous communities who do not trust modernized healthcare services. In this case, communication is a cultural issue that continues to hinder healthcare delivery to the many indigenous groups in the Australian society. In cases where the patient is seeking treatment and there is an interpreter, the patient will simply go dumb due to the cultural differences between the indigenous patient and the now- indigenous healthcare providers; this critically affects the RN roles in providing quality health care (Sepulveda, Henderson, Farrell & Heuft, 2017). The solution to the miscommunication problem is to use indigenous nurses to bridge the communication gap in order to improve the provision of healthcare to the indigenous communities. In this case, the problem will be fully solved if an indigenous nurse who shares the same culture with the community is used.

Effective communication between the healthcare providers and the indigenous patient has posed numerous health challenges in the Australian healthcare system. These challenges have been substantially increasing by the differences in cultures and race. Despite this factors being different, the indigenous people pose a reduced response from these factors. Despite the empowerment of the indigenous communities, most of the healthcare providers in the Australian healthcare system are migrants. However, it is imperative to note that the issue of culture differences arises between the indigenous patients and the local nurses; this negatively affects the role of a registered nurse (Sepulveda, Henderson, Farrell & Heuft, 2017).

In the Australian healthcare system, culture plays a role in the delivery of health services. The culture of the indigenous community is different from the culture of the mainstream. For instance, the indigenous communities hold the family with high regards. Kinship and family ties are vital to an individual. The significance of family is manifested through decision-making and passing of important information, for instance, a decision to participate in modern health care services is made through the consultation of the entire family and approval made by the community elders. In this case, the family ties and relationships do not recognize modern healthcare system, which greatly affects the RN in offering health services. Further, the culture health practice like consulting traditional healers inhibits the RN in executing their roles (Sepulveda, Henderson, Farrell & Heuft, 2017)

Further, indigenous communities segregate between women and men affairs. Some of the issues are known as “men only” and others are known as “women only.” Modern healthcare in Australia does not operate under such cultural classifications. In this case, if male healthcare providers attend a female from the indigenous community will raise cultural issues and communication inadequacies. Therefore, for effective healthcare delivery to the indigenous communities, culturally fit healthcare providers should be used in order to bridge the communication issue.

In order for the Australian healthcare system to bridge the communication problem between the healthcare providers and the indigenous communities, adequate education should be provided to all healthcare providers so that they can be in a good position to meet the needs of the communities. Most of the healthcare providers are migrants, this brings issues in communication and cultural differences, therefore, social concepts should be adopted in order to improve on the nature of health services given to the locals. The curriculum of nursing education should incorporate a segment where nurses are thought on how to effectively communicate with the indigenous people to improve on healthcare delivery. Also of great importance is to train the local people on the importance of the modern healthcare services. Further, in order to bridge the communication barriers caused by differences in culture, programs that involve the concerns the indigenous people should be implemented, this is equally important in building trust in the modern forms of treatment. In the past, much documentation has been made disregarding the cultural practices of the indigenous people. Instead of describing these cultures negatively, the indigenous people should be involved in the research process in order to address communication issues. Such a strategy is effective, as it will create a sense of ownership to the indigenous group, as they have been involved in the research process (Waller, Sloss & Williams, 2017).


Historical Issues

Healthcare is a very important determinant of health (Smith and Vivian, 2015). Lifestyles are as well important, the determinants of health, as well as the factors that are in the social environment, also have the power to determine access to health services and influence the choice of lifestyle in the very first place. One historical influence that has shaped health care and health care access in contemporary Australia society is the growing population of Australia. Millions of people that came from all corners of the world came to make Australia their home, the lives and experiences of these people influenced the aspects of Australia including health care and health care access.

The growing population makes it very hard to for health services to at least maintain health and wellbeing, managing serious and other continuing illnesses and also providing support for those who are frail and disabled (Davidson and Jim, 2013). The population has become the major factor towards the higher costs to getting health care services for a common citizen in Australia making very hard to access health care services at all times.

The population of Australia will keep growing and aging and if this factor keeps influencing the health care services negatively then a lot is going to go bad and the citizens will not be served accordingly. The preventive initiative, for example, they will not reach out effectively to those who at more risk than the ones who are not. The services for those chronically ill will is concentrated in the health care sector only with just links to community care and general practice. This growing population has a negative impact on the health care and the RN roles (Caldwell, 2015). Nurses play several roles in the health department, they are a caregiver, decision maker, communicator, manager of care, patient advocate, and teacher. These nurses experience challenges, which make them, infringe on their roles as nurses thus not giving quality health care and access to health care is limited for some patients. The growing population in the contemporary Australia is one of those factors, which influence health care and health care access negatively. The population keeps growing every day and the question is; ‘is Australia ready for it?’ Policies need to be put in place by the government for nurses and other health caregivers to help maintain a good health care service in the country with the growing population (Geoffrey, 2015).

Summary and Conclusion

Historical and cultural issues are some of the major health determinants that shape access to health care in the contemporary Australian society. Some of the communities affected by the issue of cultural and historical injustices are the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Years of colonization and negative social injustices have placed the health and survival of these communities at stake; this is because of the marginalization and racism that the communities face which prevents them from accessing healthcare. In this case, some of the cultural issues are communication problems, which significantly affect the role of RN role, this communication issue is caused by differences in cultures. In addition, historical issues like the growth in the population of the indigenous communities have affected access to health care. Many other factors have influenced the health care services in Australia. Some like this one factor pose challenges to achieving health equity in Australia for all its citizens regardless of their race, where they live, and their income. In order to bridge the gap in access to healthcare, proper education to both the non- indigenous healthcare providers and the indigenous patients should be conducted in order to eliminate the communication barriers. Further, the indigenous communities should be given an opportunity to participate in research programs that affect in order to improve their health outcome.



Betts, Katharine. (2012) Ideology and Immigration: Australia

Caldwell, J. C. (2015). "Chapter 2: Population". In Wray Vamplew (ed.). Australians: Historical

Dalby, Andrew (2014). Dictionary of Languages. Bloomsbury Publishing plc. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7475-3117-3.

Davidson, Jim (2013). "Tasmanian Gothic", Meanjin 48 (2), pp. 307–324

Foster, William, et al.(2012) Immigration and Australia: Myths and Realities

Geoffrey B; (2015). A Very Short History of the World; Penguin Books; 2004; ISBN 978-0-14-300559-9

Gittins, Ross (2015). "Back-scratching at a national level". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 June 2008.

Harris, C., Ko, H., Waller, C., Sloss, P., & Williams, P. (2017). Sustainability in Health care by Allocating Resources Effectively (SHARE) 4: Exploring opportunities and methods for consumer engagement in resource allocation in a local healthcare setting. BMC Health Services Research, 17(1),

Statistics. Broadway, New South Wales, Australia: Fairfax, Syme& Weldon Associates. pp. 23 and 26. ISBN 0-949288-29-2.

Smith, Vivian (2015). "Australian Colonial Poetry, 1788–1888". In Pierce, Peter. The Cambridge History of Australian Literature. Cambridge University Press. pp. 73–92. ISBN 9780521881654

Correa-de-Araujo, R. (2017). Health Disparities: Access and Utilization. In Ethnogeriatrics (pp. 89-114). Springer International Publishing.

Sepulveda, M., Henderson, S., Farrell, D., & Heuft, G. (2017). Needs-gap analysis on culturally and linguistically diverse grandparent carers’‘hidden issues’: a quality improvement project. Australian journal of primary health, 22(6), 477-482.

Sepulveda, M., Henderson, S., Farrell, D., & Heuft, G. (2017). Needs-gap analysis on culturally and linguistically diverse grandparent carers’‘hidden issues’: a quality improvement project. Australian journal of primary health, 22(6), 477-482.


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