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Impact of social determinants of health on indigenous children education in Australia

Discuss how social determinant of health is important for growth and development of each individual and controls several important events of human life such as birth, growth, development, education, employment and finally, death. 

Social determinants of health is an important aspect that shapes the society, decides its nature and determines the state of people connected within. (Gerald 2012) It is the condition in which any individual living in the society, born, lives, works, grows, ages and eventually dies, therefore it is the surrounding environment within which, an individual lives (Braveman and Gottlieb 2014). The social determinant of health affects each person differently as for someone, this helps to enhance their growth and condition whereas, it also hampers some people to achieve their fundamental needs. This inequality mainly occurs due to the uneven distribution of economic, social power, and availability of resources and due to this imbalance occurs in local, national and international levels ( 2018). However, Marmot et al. (2012) determines that these inequalities related to social determinant of health are avoidable and with proper structured policies and frame works, that enables proper distribution of resources and power. The entire world is concerned regarding this social determinants of health and trying to fulfill it with compliance to sustainable development goals as indigenous population are mainly affected with inequalities related to social determinant of health. (Castañeda et al. 2015)Australian indigenous people are also suffering from such issues related to their employment, their children education, gender equality, social inclusion, health system, and urbanization. The Australian government has prepared several policies related to social determinant of health of indigenous people and performs time to time enquiry to determine the level of compliance. The goal of the Australian indigenous education was creating an equal opportunity and outcomes for indigenous Australian, so that there is an equal opportunity so that Australians can gain proper and complete scope of education (Braveman and Gottlieb 2014).

The primary aim and objective of this assignment is to draw a relationship between indigenous children education and associated social determinants of health such as employment, social inclusion, child education, and urbanization. Further to understand the way these determinants of health affects the normalcy of the life of Australian indigenous people and prevent them to achieve their fundamental rights. Furthermore, the policies related to indigenous people and their children’s education will be discussed. After that, the goal of this assignment is to recommend several points that should be included in the policies to provide them with quality education.

Government's policies on indigenous people and their children's education in Australia

There are several steps that the Australian government is taking to help the indigenous peopleachieving their educational targets further preparing and encouraging mainstream schools to admit indigenous population so that improvement in educational policies related to indigenous people can be achieved (Braveman and Gottlieb 2014). However, there are higher rates of children drop outs prior to class 12 and very low number of indigenous students are able to reach to higher studies. Therefore, it is evident that there are several factors that inhibit them to achieve success. The social determinant of health that affect the process are employment, social inclusion, urbanization of their locality and education (Benach et al., 2014).

Employment is a widespread issue, as according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018), more than 48% of indigenous people were unemployed in Australia (Jacob, Liu and Lee 2015).. Their primary employment stream is laboring and participation in force staff as manpower and the females have less number of work opportunity than men as 61% male were employed compared to 41% female. Is was also observed from the statistical data that the rate of employment in age group 15 to 24 was 46%, which was estimated to increase in next five years (Viner et al. 2012). Hence, from these data it is evident that indigenous people lacks the opportunity to employment and resources to let their children attend schools and improve their financial condition. Further this social determinant of health is linked to another factor, which is education. Due to the important contribution of indigenous children in maintaining their families, the indigenous children had to opt out their education and take part in employment that affects their educational needs (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018).

A common feature of successful educational program is creative collaboration of each section of society that helps to create a social harmony and includes each section with compassion and dignity (Castañeda et al. 2015). Social inclusion is an important aspect that helps to bind the society and its different components in a way that they can support each other in any scarcity. However, there are instances when the indigenous people has to face social discrimination, disgrace (Viner et al. 2012). They are not allowed to take part in social works, their health education and human rights related fundamental needs are not met properly. These situations can be observed from the fact that from 1999 to 2010 the rate of indigenous education grew by 10 percent only (from 35% to 45%) (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018). Further there are instances in which, the mainstream schools have refused the indigenous children to take admission as the non-indigenous children will be affected with the action. Hence, social discrimination is an important factor that affects the inclusion of indigenous children in education system (Golden and Earp 2012).

Recommendations for betterment of indigenous children education in Australia

Urbanization or ability to use modern technology has become one of the key aspect depending on which, people and their development are judged (Gazzinelli et al. 2012).. The indigenous people are majorly confined to remote and confined locations where the technological developments are not yet reached. Therefore, they are not aware of the opportunities regarding to their health their children educations that they can utilize to achieve their fundamental needs. Therefore, urbanization is another social determinant of health that impacts the educational needs of indigenous people in Australia (Patil 2014).

Therefore, the Australian government has started enquires related to indigenous children education, their admission, drop outs and number of children who are able to complete their education within the period. The primary concern in this case is related to small numbers of indigenous people in each state. Moreover, they are unaware of the governmental policies and framework and therefore implementation of governmental policies in correct manner is also a major concern for indigenous people in Australia (Golden and Earp 2012). The prime objective of Australian indigenous education was to create equal opportunity of indigenous people, increase their enrollment rate so that they can reach equal levels with non-indigenous people, raise their prominence, and foster international educational policy so that they can compete with the entire world and prepare a curriculum that foster their overall cumulative growth and development (Gazzinelli et al. 2012).

The indigenous population of Australia is statistically the most disadvantaged groups in the continent. The statistical figure related to the health, level of income, housing, ultimate life expectancy accumulates to severely affect upon the ability of the aboriginal or indigenous population to effectively participate in the educational system ( 2015). UNESCO has broadly explained various policies and programs in the area of education, social science, communication and information to provide opportunities and positive impacts on the life and education of the indigenous people throughout the world.

The 2030 commitment of the UNESCO policy states highlights the statement; Leave no one behind ( 2016). The policy aims to ensure that all the priorities and needs of the indigenous population are heard. The UN declaration on the rights of the indigenous people by the UN General Assembly and the guidelines of the UN Development Group on the issues of the indigenous people states the importance of the guiding and engaging the indigenous population in different sectors and development of their community ( 2017).

Educational policies of the indigenous people

The policies implemented by the government aims at improving the educational outcomes and well-being of the indigenous students so that they succeed in every aspect of their education and life.

The department recognizes the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Incorporated as the main advisory body for the development of the educational fields of the indigenous students (Jacob, Liu and Lee 2015).

The governmental policies affirm the basic inherent right of the indigenous students for equitable, fair, culturally inclusive and significant educational opportunities for a fair and quality education of the students.

The Australian government used the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework for the development of the policy and monitoring the progress in the health and education field of the indigenous group. There exist six closing gap targets by the council of the Australian government regarding the SDOHs of the indigenous group ( 2016).

  1. The closure of the life expectancy gap and the effect of life expectancy on the education of the indigenous students within a generation by 2031( 2018).
  2. The gap in the mortality rates for the indigenous children under the age of five years.
  3. Ensuring and investigating that all the children in the remote communities and rural areas of the country have access to childhood education.
  4. Halving the gap for the students of the indigenous community in reading, writing, and numeracy within a decade.
  5. Halving the gap in employment outcomes and wage rates among the indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The effects of lesser pay on the education and schooling tendencies among the indigenous people (Jacob, Liu and Lee 2015).
  6. Having the gap for the students of the indigenous community on equivalent treatment and attainment of quality education in the schools and institutions in Australia.


Source: ( 2016)

The above figure explains the population of the indigenous Australians reporting their health status according to the SDOHs norms by the selected socio-economic factors. The figure highlights the maximum year of schooling among the students of the indigenous community.

The government of Australia and the territorial governments are committed to close the gaps of discrimination that are affecting the health and educational status of the indigenous people in the country ( 2015). These include:

  1. Increase in the rate of participation in the early level childhood education program ( 2018).
  2. Improvement in the school attendance
  3. Improvement in reading, writing, and numeracy among the students of the indigenous group
  4. Ensuring that the students coming from the community can finish off their schooling education without any hassle.

There have been substantial changes and improvement in the educational achievements of the Aboriginal and indigenous children and students, the gap still persists in the educational outcomes.

Some of the recommended outcomes that can be suggested for the betterment of the educational and health status of the indigenous population of Australia include need-based recurrent funding from the government, achievement of parity for the indigenous and aboriginal students, academic staff and researchers ( 2018). Besides, best opportunities and practices for changes inside institutions and schools and effectiveness of the Commonwealth government programs need to be revised to encourage fruitful and effective outcomes for the indigenous students of Australia.

A strategic framework should be proposed so that the government and the higher education sector can collaboratively access the educational policies and outcomes for the indigenous people to fortify parity in the sector ( 2016). Certain educational strategy and frameworks need to be revised. Indigenous schooling, education action plans, and the indigenous support systems need to be revised for the improvement and development of the educational sector of the indigenous people (Fisher et al. 2016). Introduction of the indigenous students’ scholarship program and assistance to the students from the community for their schooling and education needs is one of the essential steps the government can take. Besides this, the government should initiate in closing the gap education strategy and introduce indigenous tutorial assistance scheme and vocational educational training for the indigenous Australian students ( 2015). Policies should be made and implemented targeting the achievement of the educational outcomes for the indigenous community people as compared to those of the other Australian students ( 2016). The principle of equity for the indigenous people needs to be restored and proper planning and implementation of the activities should be initiated to support the educational and health policy of the indigenous group.


Throughout the past decades, many international efforts have been implemented for improving the rights of the indigenous people residing in Australia. Policies for developing their livelihoods, health status, and the educational level have been made by the World Health Organization and UNESCO. The United Nations Declaration on the rights of the Indigenous People explains the inherent right of the community people to be actively involved in determining and developing health and education programs and the equality of right in every sector as compared to the other country people. Equal access to schooling and education and challenges to obtaining equality in the employment sector are some of the prolonged and continuous factors of discrimination that is affecting the indigenous group altogether. The paper addressed a broad range of issues demonstrating the connection between poverty, low socio-economic status, health outcomes and education level among the indigenous population. The social determinants of health for the indigenous group of people reflect the non-enjoyment of the basic human rights and the disadvantages in the health and the education area. Hence it is essential to ensure the survival of their culture and recognize the areas for their development.

References 2016. Australia’s health 2016. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018. 4714.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15. [online] Available at:[email protected]/Lookup/by%20Subject/4714.0~2014-15~Main%20Features~Labour%20force%20characteristics~6

Benach, J., Vives, A., Amable, M., Vanroelen, C., Tarafa, G. and Muntaner, C., 2014. Precarious employment: understanding an emerging social determinant of health. Annual review of public health, 35.

Braveman, P. and Gottlieb, L., 2014. The social determinants of health: it's time to consider the causes of the causes. Public health reports, 129(1_suppl2), pp.19-31.

Castañeda, H., Holmes, S.M., Madrigal, D.S., Young, M.E.D., Beyeler, N. and Quesada, J., 2015. Immigration as a social determinant of health. Annual review of public health, 36, pp.375-392.

Fisher, M., Baum, F.E., MacDougall, C., Newman, L., McDermott, D. and Phillips, C., 2016. Intersectoral action on SDH and equity in Australian health policy. Health promotion international, 32(6), pp.953-963.

Gazzinelli, A., Correa-Oliveira, R., Yang, G.J., Boatin, B.A. and Kloos, H., 2012. A research agenda for helminth diseases of humans: social ecology, environmental determinants, and health systems. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 6(4), p.e1603.

Gerald, L., 2012. Social determinants of health. NC Med J, 73(5), pp.353-357.

Golden, S.D. and Earp, J.A.L., 2012. Social ecological approaches to individuals and their contexts: twenty years of health education & behavior health promotion interventions. Health Education & Behavior, 39(3), pp.364-372. 2018. Social determinants and the health of Indigenous peoples in Australia – a human rights based approach | Australian Human Rights Commission. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Jacob, W.J., Liu, J. and Lee, C.W., 2015. Policy debates and indigenous education: The trialectic of language, culture, and identity. In Indigenous Education (pp. 39-61). Springer, Dordrecht.

Marmot, M., Allen, J., Bell, R., Bloomer, E. and Goldblatt, P., 2012. WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divide. The Lancet, 380(9846), pp.1011-1029. 2015. Policies and strategies | Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018]. 2016. State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018]. 2017. UNESCO Policy on Indigenous Peoples | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Viner, R.M., Ozer, E.M., Denny, S., Marmot, M., Resnick, M., Fatusi, A. and Currie, C., 2012. Adolescence and the social determinants of health. The lancet, 379(9826), pp.1641-165

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