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Social Inequity and Impacts on Physical Health of Indigenous Australians

Statement of Problem

The policy brief aims to consider social inequality and its impacts on the health of indigenous Australians. Over the decades, colonized nations such as Canada, the United States, Australia, Latin America and New Zealand have generated studies and institutional policies recognizing the need to enhance the deteriorating health of the indigenous communities. Nevertheless, such efforts to eliminate the disparities have resulted in limited success. Indigenous people have poorer health than non-indigenous communities, but the disparities are higher in Australia than in any other high-income country (D’Costa et al., 2022). The term indigenous population in Australia includes the Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginals. The population experience a higher burden of diseases, especially chronic conditions such as respiratory conditions, diabetes, and circulatory illnesses.

Hoover clearly explains that the existence of social inequalities affects the physical health and well-being of the indigenous people in the country; this is, however, the best hook for the audience’s need. Research has identified various factors that explain the health gap between non-indigenous and indigenous communities (Hoover, (2022). To begin with, Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities have unequal opportunities to achieve a healthy status as their non-indigenous counterparts. Notably, the socioeconomics experienced by the indigenous population compared to non-indigenous Australians increase the likelihood of health risk exposure, both environmental and behavioural exposure. Moreover, the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities have unequal accessibility to primary healthcare facilities and healthcare infrastructure, including effective sewerage systems, safe drinking water, health housing, and garbage collection (Poirier et al., 2022). Racism also disproportionately impacts the indigenous communities, individuals with long and expansive memory and experiences of dispossession and abuse and have a higher likelihood of being discriminated against in education, housing, health, the justice system, and housing. Besides, indigenous Australians have unequal access to education and other early childhood services.

Significance of the Topic

Social disparities in health impact people’s chances of getting sick or hurt, as well as how they interact with each other and access medical care. The life expectancy of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal males and females born in 2015–2017 is roughly 75.6 and 71.6 years, respectively, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022). Besides, 70% of the health disparities between the non-indigenous and indigenous populations can be attributed to non-communicable diseases, where cardiovascular conditions are the largest contributors at 23 per cent, followed by diabetes, mental conditions, and respiratory diseases at 12%, 10% and 9% respectively (Markwick et al., 2014). Therefore, there is a need to investigate the issue and provide detailed solutions that focus on reducing or eliminating social disparities that impact the health of indigenous Australian.

The suspicion or mistrust that only some Indigenous student harbour toward non-Indigenous persons may also obstruct communication between themselves and non-Indigenous individuals. The respondents to the survey remarked that Indigenous students have a tendency to mistrust non-Indigenous individuals as a result of upsetting past experiences as well as contemporary discrimination. Additionally, comments made by Indigenous respondents agreed that the psychological anguish and anguish connected to terrible past events, such as familial murders, had a significant impact on Indigenous people. Previous studies have documented the negative consequences of racism, including historic incidents, showing that certain interactions had emotionally distressed Indigenous Australians. Whenever states in the international system involved in the colonial conquest of the Indigenous people offer advice on a healthy lifestyle, cognitively inequality may result.

The current study emphasizes the difficulties and complications brought on by the contact between (generally speaking) two civilizations (Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures). This interaction is complicated by oppressive history, racism that still exists in modern society, and the marginalized that goes along with it. In addition to marginalized, underlying processes brought on by various enablers and obstacles, including social ties and protection, are further complicated and exacerbated by the quest for cultural identities and the impacts of points of view. The evidence particularly emphasizes the possibility that just about any medical and other support that might come from non-Indigenous organizations may well be hampered by mistrust fostered by past and modern discrimination. On either hand, it also draws attention to the challenge of promoting healthy habits without aggravating discrimination or inequality. As a means of decreasing injustices and supporting the community, it also emphasizes the significance of Indigenous community alliance activities to change health-related behaviours.

The organized process of coming up with, assessing, and selecting different ways to proceed is called political options assessment. It entails projecting into the ahead to foresee what will occur due to various activities one could undertake and afterwards advising actions that will lead to the best consequences. Approach to Reducing Inequalities among the Indigenous Australians. As earlier indicated, efforts to reduce the health disparities among indigenous communities in Australia have had limited success. Hence, there is a need to change focus. One of the strategies is the adoption of the human rights approach. It is a critical approach that addresses discriminatory practices and inequalities by supporting better and more sustainable developmental results. The approach requires health programs and policies to recognize and prioritize the needs of the disadvantaged. It also recognizes health as a right every Australian should enjoy without discrimination based on ethnicity, race, age, or other aspects. Therefore, the government and other stakeholders must adopt interventions within indigenous communities to prevent structural and systemic racism through the proposed approach. Besides, education must be improved among the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities to reduce social inequalities. One strategy would be to offer intensive and extensive support services to indigenous students.

Situation/Complication/Resolution framework

Situation

  • Indigenous Australians experience more social inequalities than their non-indigenous counterparts, which impacts their physical well-being.

Complication 

  • Despite the efforts by the government and other stakeholders to reduce inequalities, progress has been slow.

Resolution

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