Discuss about the Indigenous Cultures and Health.
Indigenous people in Australia are the Aboriginals and the Torres Islander people who mostly live in the remote areas. As per the ABS (2013) they contribute 3% in the total Australian population. The health of indigenous people is not good compared to the non- indigenous people. The rate of mortality in young age is more common in the case of indigenous people. (AIHW, 2014). There are many challenges in improving their health condition. What is the reason leading to the differences in the health conditions of indigenous people from the non indigenous people? Why is they are deprived of the basic health facilities? These questions point towards the discrimination of these people who are related to their land and follow their ethnic beliefs. These people are not open to the western ideologies. They have a different culture, a different life styles and different ideologies. Before taking about the health conditions it is important to define the meaning of culture. Culture signifies the way to live. It frames a person thought about the right and wrong in life. It defines the way a person behaves, make decision and think. (Eckermann et al, 2010). Moving together with common beliefs and thinking forms a cultural group.
Indigenous People of Australia
The aboriginals are the people who belong to their land and are very close to nature. For the aboriginal people land is the law. It is like mother to them. They believe in unity and kinship. (Graham, 2008). After the colonisation these people were forced to move out of their places which had a bad impact on their life. They were neglected by the non indigenous people. This has led to the deterioration of aboriginal culture. It has a broad term effect on their health, social well being. It has given them long lasting pain and sufferings. The cultural values are getting lost. They find it difficult to adjust in the new environment and maintain the balance with the changes and their cultural beliefs. (Krysinska, Martin & Sheehan, 2009).
Health of Indigenous People
Health condition is Australia is good but no same for all. The difference in the health conditions is significant in Australia. The mortality, birth rate, disease, life expectancy and health related risk are experienced differently by the indigenous and non-indigenous population. There is inequality, lack of health security and health inequity experienced by the indigenous people in Australia. (Public health association of Australia, 2008). They believe in the traditional treatments and those who are more in touch with their culture experience better health condition. (Dockery, A.M., 2009). The access to the health facilities is limited for these people. Health literacy is also less in the indigenous people. Due to these hazards they are mostly deprived of the medical care at the time of need. The socio economic difference makes them more prone to the environmental, behavioural and mental diseases. The discrimination on basis of race, colour and culture is evident in the health care organisations. (Adelaide, 2007). The stories of many aboriginals describe the reasons and effects of these discriminations.
Gibbs’ reflective cycle (1988).
Story of Russell Nelly
The story of Russell Nelly, 58 years old aboriginal Australian depicts the poor condition of aboriginal people in regards to their physical, mental and social well being. The lack of proper care has driven him to follow a bad life style. Being neglected and looked down upon by the non indigenous people had affected him badly. Born to aboriginal parents under a tree, Nelly joined Gwonangerup mission. In his words the aboriginal people demanding a better life were incarcerated by the government in the 40s era. The struggle all along his life led him towards the alcohol and drugs addiction. In the health care organisation he did not receive a good care. He decided to walk out of the hospital on the 4th day from the ICU and the hospital caretakers did not bother to stop him. He went to jail and experienced bad behaviour in his life. He was never treated equally like others in these years. Life of Nelly is the example of the several aboriginal people. It is sass to observe that in a country like Australia, there are people like Nelly who struggle for their existence throughout their life and on the other hand, there are non-indigenous people who experience the best of everything.
His unhealthy life style caused many diseases. He suffered from heart diseases, diabetes and blood clots. As per him, the aboriginal knowledge of the people around him was effective in the treatment. He believes that the medicinal bushes helped him to get cured. This shows the strong belief of the aboriginal people in the traditional treatment techniques. It is this belief that has to be acknowledged by the government that these people should be accepted in their own cultural background. Changing their life and knowledge to get adapted to the western ideas is not required.
As per my studies on the aboriginal culture and health, the outcome is poor. The evident differences and inequalities in every respect are making a bad impact on the health of these people. The poor health condition in the aboriginal women is a major concern. As per Reibel & Walker (2010) there are various strategies and plans to implement cultural competency in health care organisations by the Australian government but implication of these methods are observed for improving the health of aboriginal women and kids. I feel it is time that health professionals should work in forward direction to improve the health condition of these people.
What can be done?
It is important to provide health safety, health literacy and equity to the aboriginal people. The access to the health facility by these people should be encouraged to maintain the health of the people. The health organisation and professionals has to understand the cultural difference and treat these people accordingly. Racism is a factor which should be avoided. It is required that the health professional should consider these people equally and provide them with better health facilities. Racism is experienced by many indigenous people in health care centres. (Durey, 2010). Cultural safety and security is defined as the actions, strategies which can improve the health condition of the indigenous people. (Coffin et al, 2002). As a health professional I believe that it is important to have knowledge of the cultural similarities and dissimilarities between our culture and the aboriginal culture. In this way the gap can be overcome. Cultural competency plays an important role in maintaining good health for the indigenous people. Good health is every human birth right. The government of Australia need to develop strategies and programs in their ethic settings. The health professionals should acknowledge the needs and help these people.
The right to good health and care is equal for all. Culture and background of a person is the most importance aspect of an individual. The aboriginal people love their cultural beliefs and wish to follow it. In order to provide them with better health facilities, it is important that the health centres and professionals develop the understanding of their culture and provide them with the facilities which make the indigenous people comfortable. To develop a good and healthy nation, health of the individuals is important. The government has introduced many action plans to overcome the problems affecting the health of these people, although the actions are yet to be used by professionals. The future practise by the health professionals should be centred to fulfil the needs of these people
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Gibbs, G. (1988). The reflective cycle. Retrieved on 23 October 2016 from https://www.heftfaculty.co.uk/sites/default/files/Gibbs_Reflective_Cycle.pdf
Krysinska, K., Martin, G & Sheehan, N. (2009). Identity, voice, place: suicide prevention for indigenous Australians- a social and emotional wellbeing approach. Australia: university of Queensland.
Public health association of Australia. (2008). Health inequities policy. Retrieved on 20 October 2016 from https://www.phaa.net.au
Reibel, T. & Walker, R. (2010). Antenatal services for aboriginal women: the relevance of culture competence. Quality in primary care, 18. 65-74.