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This assignment involves the collection and analysis of four (4) media items on one current Indigenous health and well-being issue/topic. You are required to link this contemporary issue as presented in the media

Summary and Key Issues - Chronic Overcrowding in Australia's Biggest Ever Indigenous Housing Program

Shelter and housing are some of the most important living conditions which are recognized to be fundamental for health. The benefits of having shelter are associated with various health benefits. The poor housing is associated with less housing availability, the design of the houses, surroundings, the condition of the housing and the constructions. Australia is very vast with a number of citizens living out of the towns and cities. The disadvantaged groups such as the indigenous communities right from colonization face challenges such as poor housing and lack of better. Isolation of small-sized communities contributes to issues of housing acute in remote and rural areas (Habibis, 2013).

 One of the significant determinants of the poor health status of the Aboriginals Australians is poor housing. Children are more vulnerable to infections in these living conditions. Despite the majority of the aboriginal Australians residing in the urban areas, most of the research on housing and its connection with health issues has been conducted in the remote areas targeting the remote communities (McNamara, Cassells, Wicks & Vidyattama, 2010). Poor housing, household overcrowding, and poor hygiene practices directly or indirectly dominate some of the social and health problems present in the remote Aboriginal communities. Considering the housing issue and health, this paper addresses this issue by analyzing different media sources.

The paper aims at addressing some of the associated factors linked to health and poor housing. A summary of each media item and linking the indigenous approaches and models on the current debate topics is illustrated, and I will also include my reflection.

Bardon, J. (2016). Chronic overcrowding in Australia's biggest ever Indigenous housing program. [online] ABC Radio. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/chronic-overcrowding-in-australias-biggest-ever/7582406 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

The article above illustrates the living conditions of the Indigenous communities in the Northern territories of Australia. It shows how the people still live in chronically overcrowded homes despite the indigenous housing program (Bardon, 2016). The Indigenous communities in remote areas live in poor housings conditions. The houses are not properly fixed with some having rain inside the house when it rains. They like living in their ancestrial lands, but would like the government to improve the living condition of the houses. A two-bedroom house hosts more than 28 adults and children. They use shared showers making it difficult to prepare for schools or work in the morning. They are concerned about their living conditions and when cleaning the houses, they find cockroaches and ants coming out of the walls posing critical health issues on themselves (Bardon, 2016).

Links to Model Approaches and Current Debates

The houses are too overcrowded putting more concerns of their lifestyles. The federal territory government has built new houses to cub the issue, but they are not enough to reduce overcrowding. According to the federal territory government, there is need to address the housing issues, however the biggest challenge is funding as the funds they have are not enough to build more houses to address the demand for the housing (Bardon, 2016). 

The characteristics of the aboriginal families being larger and lack sufficient affordable homes to accommodate them is widely noticed. Andersen,  Williamson, Fernando, Redman and  Vincent, (2016) add that, in the urban areas the aboriginal families are expected to host the extended families who visit in search of better services. Households suffer from sufficient space, basic amenities, and privacy. The children have no space to sleep, play or do their homework. The environment turns out to be stressful, problematic and determinant of health. The poor housing conditions of the already overcrowded housings are characterised with poor insulations, leading problems such as damp, leaking rooves, faulty plumbing, moulds, broken amenities and poor temperature control. The poor housing conditions are associated with negative effects on physical health, emotional and social well-being of the Aboriginal families.

According to Andersen et al., (2016), houses characterised by overcrowding affects the health of the community members. The poor living conditions are key drivers to communicable diseases such as gastroenteritis, skin infections or namely cold. Asthma and respiratory diseases are associated with moulds and dampness. The injuries posed by faulty household fixtures are also concerns. The emotional and social wellbeing are associated with stress leading to depression and other mental disorders (Lyons & Janca, 2012) adds that the Aboriginal children not only face challenges at homes, but also face a lot of bullying in schools and givent the living conditions, they end up suffering from anxiety, depression and psychosis disorders. The children and elderly living with chronic diseases are severely affected in these living conditions. Overcrowding is problems which cause lots of strains on couple and family relationships, affecting their emotional wellbeing.

The author of the article is successful in bringing primary data on some of the challenges faced by the Aboriginal communities leaving in overcrowded homes. The health issues resulting from the overcrowdings of the houses are very serious and need to be addressed. The housing problems affect the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of people posing serious health issues to the affected.

Personal Reflection

Quilty, S. (2017). Why the housing shortage exacerbates scabies in Indigenous communities. [online] NITV. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2017/02/07/why-housing-shortage-exacerbates-scabies-indigenous-communities [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

The article describes how housing shortage intensifies the spread of scabies in the indigenous communities. Scabies is described as a disease of the old past that is no longer known to most of the Australian society. Though in the far remote Northern Territory, scabies infection is considered to be very endemic and about 70% of the aboriginal children in the remote areas have been infected by the disease in the first year of life (Quilty, 2017). Children are more vulnerable to skin disease (Hendrickx, Bowen, Marsh, Carapetis & Walker, 2018) A recent research done showed that one in 100 aboriginal people in the remote region of Katherine suffers from scabies. The disease is linked to homelessness and remote leaving. One person with the disease has a high chance of infecting others leading to extreme rates of infection among the Aboriginal communities. The infection is highly contagious to people in contact with the affected person leading to high level of spread of the disease (Aung,  Cuningham, Hwang, Andrews, Carapetis,  Kearns, & Campbell, 2018).

The article shows the government commitments to solving Aboriginal issues concerning health. Katherine region is characterized by a high number of homeless people. It is estimated that one out of four Aboriginal people is homeless. They either live in makeshift riverside camps, or they lack alternative dwelling places. Many of the Aboriginals cannot afford the available private rental market, leaving the public housing the only option. The public housing, however, has a five-year waiting period before one can get a house and for one to be considered in the waiting list, they need to have a postal address where the department of the housing can communicate to them. The rules and regulations around the waitlists are constantly changing making it hard for the people to remain on the five-year waiting period to get a house. This makes more people homeless.

Aboriginal people living in Northern Australia are forced to stay in houses with four generations. There are no houses to start their own families. When they relocate to the bigger city, they temporarily or permanently stay in the homeless (Browne-Yung, Ziersch, Baum & Gallaher, 2016). They end up homeless for a long time.  Some the temporary homes in the bushes and riversides fringes dwelling camps become their permanent homes with no proper sanitation, clean running water or shelters (Andersen, Williamson, Fernando, Wright & Redman, 2017). There is a need to address the homelessness situations among the aboriginals living in urban areas.

Summary and Key Issues - Why the Housing Shortage Exacerbates Scabies in Indigenous Communities

The aboriginals host their extended families, and with the crowded houses already, one with the Scabies infections hides it in long-sleeved clothes and trousers, spreading it to the people living in that house. Access to medical treatment only helps for a while as after recovery they go back to the usual areas of residence where there is a high level of contracting the infection again. Quilty (2017) denotes that, to contain the infection, the identified cases of the crusted scabies should be treated systematically including the proper follow up with household contacts.

Measures have been put in place by the Northern Territory Department of Health Centre for Disease Control who are working with the philanthropic organization One Disease who have achieved tremendous success in the Arnhem Land so as to replicate the same in the vulnerable population of Northern Territory. Emphasize has also been placed on the campaigns on dealing with scabies in the remote areas where the mobile population affects the eradication of the disease. Solving the homelessness problem is still a big challenge due to its routes in the era of colonization making the Aboriginals not to have safe homes. Poor health and social outcomes for the Aboriginal communities are caused by homelessness. The healthcare sector cannot solve the issue of homelessness. Homelessness results in poor health conditions.  

I agree with the author, Scabies contributes to the decline in life expectancy, and the issue of homelessness that leads to higher chances of contamination should be addressed. The healthcare sector cannot solve the issue of homelessness even though it results in poor health conditions. The healthcare can only do as much as they can. More interventions should be put in place to address the housing issues to avoid the spread of such infections and improve the living conditions of the people.

Wainwright, S. (2017). Wilcannia locals call for more housing to address overcrowding. [online] ABC News. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-07/wilcannia-locals-call-for-more-action-on-overcrowding/8396504 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

The article shows the difficulties the Aboriginal families are experiencing in their poor living conditions. In order to reduce the health and social disparities between the aboriginals and non-aboriginals, the housing problem needs to be given more attention. The attention should be first directed to repair of the homes that they are living in. The dilapidated conditions of the houses caused by the storm in the Wilcannia region and overcrowding are not favorable for their health and social wellbeing. The few numbers of houses in the region also needs to be addressed to avoid overcrowding in the Aboriginals households in Wilcannia. The houses destroyed by the storm caused a lot of displacement of families, and there is no response to fix them. The houses can be fixed to address the shortage of housing in the region (Koziol, 2014).  The overcrowding also leads to the breakage in sewer lines as they cannot accommodate more people, the breakage impose severe health issues on the people living there. One child contacting conjunctivitis will lead to other people in the household contacting the same disease. The clogging on the sinks is also dangerous to the health of the occupants of the house.

Links to Model Approaches and Current Debates

Measures taken by the NSW Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) to help determine the extent of overcrowding and help with the repairs is a good initiative to help the aboriginal families. Including the locals to conduct the survey and also perform the duties is also a source of creating employment for them and alleviating their situations at the same time. The program will also help identify some of the future needs for new housings. A clear data on the number of people waiting for the houses is not available, hence making it hard to determine the demands for houses. Therefore conducting a survey where the locals participate will help them identify the gaps.  The national police houses can be used to reduce overcrowding in a house. This shows how the government is committed to solving some of the prevailing issues.

Living in crowded houses tends to be stressful and expose people to domestic violence and alcohol abuse in the house leading to violence within a house. The older people in a house are not able to attend to their health problems. The poor housing causes an impact on the personalities of the children as they develop. Poor housing is a health hazard to the Aboriginal families living in crowded houses and poor conditions leading to vulnerability to stress and exposure to violence.

Fitzpatrick, S. (2018). Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps. [online] Theaustralian.com.au. Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/gastro-risk-in-urban-aboriginal-dwellings/news-story/181cc7ef53398be0d2dffcd7057e6180 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

The paper talks about the effect of poor housing conditions on the recurrent health conditions among the Aboriginal children. The poor housing conditions are characterized by damp, overcrowding, mildew and vermin which leads to the recurrent of infections such as gastrointestinal. The housing conditions create a huge health gap for the indigenous Australians. Though Baker, Lester, and Bentley, (2016) note that, the issue of poor housing is prevalent among Australians.

The aboriginals are not able to keep their homes warm enough during winter leading to dampness or mildew (Bailie, Stevens,  McDonald,  Brewster & Guthridge, 2010). Overcrowding is one of the main issues that saw many aboriginal children seek healthcare services. The housing conditions in the urban areas for the Aboriginals need to be improved (Paswon, 2014) The author also notes that it is not clear whether the improved housing conditions will result in improved health outcomes for the Aboriginals in the urban areas.

Different housing problems present an increase in the risk of exposure to pathogens and impairing peoples’ ability to seek and undertake healthy living practices. It is also difficult to perform other wellbeing activities that may prevent vulnerability to infectious diseases. The underlying issues affecting the Aboriginal communities need to be addressed. The concerns are about the living conditions characterized by poor housing states, overcrowding and no repairs of damaged houses (Ware, 2013). The healthcare sector can treat the affected children, but the infections may reoccur as they go back to the same living conditions that make them susceptible to infections. Apart from the infectious disease, unintentional injuries among children can be prevented to close the health gap between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children (Möller, Falster, Ivers, Randall, Clapham, & Jorm, 2016).

The aboriginal communities are affected so much by the housing problems that contribute to poor physical, emotional and social wellbeing. The infections they encounter are treated by the healthcare departments, by since they go back to the same conditions, it reoccurs continuously causing no end to the infections. I agree with the author; the underlying issues need to be addressed to provide better health care opportunities and reduce the gaps between the aboriginals and non-Aboriginals.

Conclusion

Through the analysis of these media source who has brought the conditions to our attention, it is evident that more still needs to be done to address some of these challenges affecting the Aboriginals. Housing conditions negatively affect the physical health, emotional and social welling of the Aboriginal communities living in both remote areas and urban regions. The overcrowding in the houses are drivers to the spread of communicable diseases such as skin infection, scabies, flue, etc. There is a need to address the gaps in the housing conditions and number among the aboriginal communities. The housing is a determinant of the well-being of the people. It affects the health standards of people. The aboriginals are disadvantaged when it comes to housing in Australia, and more measures and interventions need to be put in place to address these issues. The poor living conditions impacts the development and health of children.

The burdens in living in overcrowded houses are too high. The health sector has played a key role in ensuring the Aboriginals access the health care services they require; however, this is not enough as more housing policies and interventions need to be put in place. The housing problem affects many Aboriginals in the remote communities, the concerns on the number of urban Aboriginals with housing problems are high.

The high rates of housing challenges among the urban Aboriginal communities show the need for housing and public health campaigns in advocating for the rights of the Aboriginals to get improved services and access to better and affordable housing. The disparities in housing problems indicate the need to develop better policies to respond to some of the challenges. It is also notable that health and housing go hand in hand. Housing environment has a greater impact on human health. The living conditions contribute to the physical, social and mental wellbeings of an individual. Therefore, to advocate for better health among human being, the housing standards have to be considered. Therefore better health care reforms need to be supported by better living standards and housing.

References

Andersen, M. J., Williamson, A. B., Fernando, P., Redman, S., & Vincent, F. (2016). “There’s a housing crisis going on in Sydney for Aboriginal people”: focus group accounts of housing and perceived associations with health. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3049-2

Andersen, M. J., Williamson, A. B., Fernando, P., Wright, D., & Redman, S. (2017). Housing conditions of urban households with Aboriginal children in NSW Australia: tenure type matters. BMC Public Health, 18, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4607-y

Aung, P. T. Z., Cuningham, W., Hwang, K., Andrews, R. M., Carapetis, J., Kearns, T., … Campbell, P. T. (2018). Scabies and risk of skin sores in remote Australian Aboriginal communities: A self-controlled case series study. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 12(7), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006668

Baker E, Lester L, Bentley R, & Beer A.(20160. Poor housing quality: prevalence and health effects. J Prevent Int Comm, 44(4):19–232.

Bailie, R., Stevens, M., McDonald, E., Brewster, D., & Guthridge, S. (2010). Exploring cross-sectional associations between common childhood illness, housing and social conditions in remote Australian Aboriginal communities. BMC Public Health, 10(1), 147–156. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=49164294&site=ehost-live

Bardon, J. (2016). Chronic overcrowding in Australia's biggest ever Indigenous housing program. [online] ABC Radio. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/chronic-overcrowding-in-australias-biggest-ever/7582406 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Browne-Yung, K., Ziersch, A., Baum, F., & Gallaher, G. (2016). “When you sleep on a park bench, you sleep with your ears open and one eye open”: Australian Aboriginal peoples’ experiences of homelessness in an urban setting. Australian Aboriginal Studies, 2016(2), 3–17. Retrieved from https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=120235404&site=ehost-live

Fitzpatrick, S. (2018). Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps. [online] Theaustralian.com.au. Available at: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/gastro-risk-in-urban-aboriginal-dwellings/news-story/181cc7ef53398be0d2dffcd7057e6180 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Habibis, D. (2013). Australian Housing Policy, Misrecognition and Indigenous Population Mobility. Housing Studies, 28(5), 764–781. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2013.759545

Hendrickx, D., Bowen, A. C., Marsh, J. A., Carapetis, J. R., & Walker, R. (2018). Ascertaining infectious disease burden through primary care clinic attendance among young Aboriginal children living in four remote communities in Western Australia. PLoS ONE, 13(9), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0203684

Lyons, Z. zaza. lyons@uwa. edu. a., & Janca, A. (2012). Indigenous children in Australia: Health, education and optimism for the future. Australian Journal of Education (ACER Press), 56(1), 5–21. Retrieved fromhttps://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eft&AN=74421959&site=ehost-live

Koziol M.(2014) Nowhere to live: Aboriginal Housing supply dries up. Alt media https://www.altmedia.net.au/nowhere-to-live-aboriginalhousing-supply-dries-up/92321

McNamara, J., Cassells, R., Wicks, P., & Vidyattama, Y. (2010). Children in Housing Disadvantage in Australia: Development of a Summary Small Area Index. Housing Studies, 25(5), 625–646. https://doi.org/10.1080/02673037.2010.483583

Möller, H. h. moeller@student. unsw. edu. a., Falster, K., Ivers, R., Falster, M., Randall, D., Clapham, K., & Jorm, L. (2016). Inequalities in Hospitalized Unintentional Injury Between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Children in New South Wales, Australia. American Journal of Public Health, 106(5), 899–905. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.303022

Paswon H, Davison G (2014). Addressing concentrations of disadvantage: Emerton/ Mount Druitt case study report. Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

Quilty, S. (2017). Why the housing shortage exacerbates scabies in Indigenous communities. [online] NITV. Available at: https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/nitv-news/article/2017/02/07/why-housing-shortage-exacerbates-scabies-indigenous-communities [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Wainwright, S. (2017). Wilcannia locals call for more housing to address overcrowding. [online] ABC News. Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-07/wilcannia-locals-call-for-more-action-on-overcrowding/8396504 [Accessed 8 Oct. 2018].

Ware V-A. (2013). Housing strategies that improve Indigenous health outcomes. Canberra: Closing the Gap Clearinghouse; 

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