The health of Australian Aboriginal people is in a dismal state, as the latest Oxfam report indicated, often comparable to ‘people in the world’s poorest nations’. Check out this article published in the ABC news online:
Last Update: Monday, April 30, 2007. 11:35am (AEST) Australia
Underlying history a factor in Indigenous health: academic
The co-author of a report to the World Health Organisation (WHO) says acknowledging the wrongs done to Aboriginal people would significantly improve their health.
The report by University of New South Wales researchers says while the past 100 years has brought overwhelming improvements in health for the western world, Aboriginal and Torres Strait people continue to suffer problems like leprosy.
Co-author Lisa Jackson Pulver from the university’s Indigenous Health Unit says social factors stemming from colonisation are very significant, including the Federal Government’s refusal to apologise for the past.
“One of the things that we’re looking at in the inequity picture is the ongoing intergenerational grief, if you like, an intergenerational problem that seems to be stemming because of a lack of acknowledgment,” she said.
Dr Jackson Pulver says social factors underlie the differences in health.
“You have to marry an increase in resources and very targeted programs along with other things that have a more emotional and other impact,” she said.
“Such as acknowledging what has gone on and acknowledging that we do need to mobilise some specific resources for for this population.”
This discussion is a constant undercurrent in Australia. But usually it is insinuating something like: why can’t Aboriginal people get it together..?
I am very pleased to read something that cuts to the heart of the issue. It also implies that there are underlying issues that need to be acknowledged and resolved in Australian to help us all move forward together. One of these issues is acknowledging that Aboriginal people had, and continue to have, a legitimate social and cultural world view that is different from mainstream Australia.
I think that reports like this also lend weight to the argument that language and culture are integral to the state of indigenous peoples health in Australia. It is amazing how difficult it is to ‘justify’ to the Australian government (and people) that Aboriginal languages are well worth investing time, money and expertise in, over the long term.