Discuss about your Strategies to Improve the physical health of Indigenous Australians should discuss how your own Social Position influenced your thinking.
Recent problems faced by the indigenous population in Australia have drawn attention of political leaders since the majority of these issues have been linked with the poor economic status of the population. Since the population suffers poor physical and mental health conditions whose burden is increasing with each passing year, the need for policy reforms is more prominent (Moreton-Robinson 2015). A group of scholars have pointed out that “Native title rights are a key ingredient in improving the physical (health) and mental wellbeing of Indigenous Australians”. The standpoint taken in this paper is that health outcomes of the indigenous population are driven by their economic status. The economic status is again influenced by the evident disconnection with their original land and the maltreatment they have received through time. The present paper critically analyses the above mentioned idea on the basis of evidence gathered from the literature. The discussion takes into account sources of economic inequality leading to the poor physical health of indigenous Australians and the link with dispossession of land rights. Further, strategies for improving the physical health of this population are discussed that highlights how own social position infleucnes personal thinking.
Indigenous economic development matters, as highlighted by Otim et al. (2014). At present, the population faces a number of diversified economic circumstances. One one hand is the section of the population who live in urban settings and have considerable engagement with the market economy. On the other hand is the other section of the population who live in remote areas and have no contribution towards the development of the economy. Measures of economic status are at times based on social indicators. The measures of heath and wellbeing indicate that indigenous population have the lowest economic status of all Australians.
Alford and Muir (2004) have linked economic condition of Indigenous Australians with the concepts of native title rights. Native title refers to the bundle of rights that depends on the native title holder’s customs and laws. It also relies on the capacity of the law to acknowledge the interests and rights they hold. It includes the right to occupy and possess an area for excluding all others. In certain areas, the native title bundle is the set of non-exclusive rights, meaning no right to control access to, and use of, the area. It is basically the recognition that the indigenous Australians continue to hold rights to the land that have come from the traditional customs and laws. Land rights are also related to this concern. However, some distinctions are present between the two. Land rights are the legislative response given by parliaments to those upholding traditional rights. In land rights claim, the individuals seek a grant of title to land from the State or Territory governments. The underlying concept is that the native title agreements provide the population with benefits such as title to land, employment and training, conservation opportunities and business. Lastly, cultural heritage is also taken forward from generation to generation through native titles and land rights. All of the above mentioned factors contribute towards the economic growth of the population.
Altman (2006) in this regard has highlighted that the indigenous private sector is an emerging section of the Australian economy. Importantly, businesses are responsible for providing essential services and goods to other businesses, governments and consumers in the context of the broader economy of the country. Enterprises set up by the indigenous population are been perceived to be unique in the manner in which business opportunities are taken up. At present, they are deviated from the position to capitalise their business plans. The prime reason for this is disputes regarding native land settlements. Since resource related payments might fall under native title agreements, it is challenging to fulfil such payments at the appropriate time frame. indigenous Australians are not able to make investments in new enterprises as a result of their ongoing disputes. For ensuring that economic betterment is brought about, there is a need of placing them in a position whether they can take comparative advantage of areas such as natural science, arts, management and tourism.
Biddle (2011) draws the link between the poor economic condition and physical and mental health conditions of the indigenous population. The population is not in a condition to pay for adequate healthcare services needed to address the diverse health needs. Absence of access to healthcare services has led to high mortality and morbidity rates among the population. There also lies an association between the low economic condition and lower levels of health literacy. Unemployment and lack of education have presented the population with a lifestyle that does not support healthy living.
As opined by Anderson et al. (2017) the Australian government is recommended to share in the wider contexts of opportunities of the country’ strong economic base so that indigenous population can enjoy social and financial benefits at large. There is a need of coming up with a strong and accurate economic development strategy that would act as the pathway for guiding indigenous Australians towards education, employment and financial security. The strategies are to be focused on five prime domains for bringing about improvements in the prosperity. These are building foundations for creating an environment supporting economic development, education, jobs and skills development, enabling entrepreneurship and business development, helping individuals gain financial independence and security.
Pearson (2005) highlighted that for closing the gap of disparities between economic condition of indigenous and non-indigenous population, extensive collaboration is required between peak bodies, communities, non-government bodies, local and state governments and employers. The Australian government needs to recognise the lasting and tangible improvements that can be brought about in the economic situation of indigenous Australians. However, the mentioned population must also take responsibility for their wellbeing in relation to economic stability since the government cannot work alone towards this goal. Some other strategies include reviewing the statutory functions and role of the Native Title Representative Bodies for ensuring that they are capable of meeting the evolving requirements of the native title system. This is of prime focus since there is a need of resolving concerns faced by native title holders (Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011).
At this juncture, I would like to highlight how my own social position influenced my thinking. I am a non-indigenous individual who has witnessed discrimination and partiality been done with the indigenous population. Having experiences of coming in contact with an indigenous population with the poor economic condition, I have learnt that native land titles are of much value and significance to this population.
At the end of the paper, it is to be stated that there lies an undeniable link between native title rights, land rights and economic status of the indigenous population in Australia. In light of the fact that the poor health outcomes of the population are increasing with time, the government must come forward to take certain initiatives for supporting high standards of economic development, financial management and corporate governance. In addition, the government must cosndier increasing accountability and transparency in Indigenous native title asset holding bodies.
Alford, K. and Muir, J., 2004. Dealing with unfinished Indigenous business: the need for historical reflection. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 63(4), pp.101-107.
Altman, J., 2006. The Future of Indigenous Australia: Is there a path beyond the free market or welfare dependency. Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Canberra. Compendio internacional de prácticas, 185.
Anderson, I., Lyons, J.G., Luke, J.N. and Reich, H.S., 2017. Health Determinants and Educational Outcomes for Indigenous Children. In Indigenous Children Growing Up Strong (pp. 259-285). Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Biddle, N., 2011. Measures of Indigenous wellbeing and their determinants across the lifecourse. CAEPR Lecture series. The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia.
Indigenous Economic Development Strategy 2011–2018. (2011). Australian Government.
Moreton-Robinson, A., 2015. The white possessive: Property, power, and indigenous sovereignty. University of Minnesota Press.
Otim, M.E., Kelaher, M., Anderson, I.P. and Doran, C.M., 2014. Priority setting in Indigenous health: assessing priority setting process and criteria that should guide the health system to improve Indigenous Australian health. International journal for equity in health, 13(1), p.45.
Pearson, N., 2005. Can Cape York communities be economically viable?. Viewpoint, Cape York Institute for Policy & Leadership, Cairns, Qld.