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The Health Of Indigenous Australians Essay

2343 words - 9 pages

As health professionals, we must look beyond individual attributes of Indigenous Australians to gain a greater understanding and a possible explanation of why there are such high rates of ill health issues such as alcoholism, depression, abuse, shorter life expectancy and higher prevalence of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and obesity in our indigenous population. Looking at just the individual aspects and the biomedical health model, we don’t get the context of Aboriginal health. This is why we need to explore in further detail what events could have created such inequities in Aboriginal health. Other details that we should consider are the historical and cultural factors such as, ‘terra nullius’, dispossession and social Darwinism, early attempts of genocide towards Indigenous Australians, segregation and the ‘protection’ legislation, the assimilation policy, self-determination and “the emergence of Indigenous protest” (Psychology and Indigenous Australians, Foundations of Cultural Competence, 2009, pp.84) as well as the limiting factors of being part of a low socioeconomic status group and statistical health differences between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians compared to other countries Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. By encompassing all of these details, we can begin to establish why Aboriginal’s tend to have more health issues and what can be done to improve these health inequities.
When the English settlers arrived on Australian shores in 1776 (The Story of the Australian People, 2010), they didn’t see anything that represented that the land was owned, so they claimed it as their own under ‘terra nullius’ in 1776. “In International Law 'terra nullius' describes territory that nobody owns so that the first nation to discover it is entitled to take it over, as ‘finder’s keepers’”(United Nations Association of Australia, 2008). It was this day that was the start of a long dark history of cruelty and ill treatment towards the traditional custodians of Australia.
Under the ‘terra nullius’ law, the Aboriginals lost their land, which is now known as dispossession. To justify this dispossession, the English followed the set of beliefs that are now identified as social Darwinism. “Social Darwinism, with its powerful racially based doctrines, ranked Indigenous Australians as inferior to Europeans and provided a rationale for dispossession by drawing on the ‘laws’ of natural selection to justify the ‘inevitable’ extinction of Indigenous Australians in the face of the arrival of the ‘superior’ white race” (Psychology and Indigenous Australians, Foundations of Cultural Competence, 2009, pp. 75). By having their land taken away from them, the Aboriginals lost part of their spiritual connection and their sense of belonging and identity because Aboriginal culture is based heavily on the spirits of the land. These connections that bonded the Aboriginals to the land were never understood by the English...

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