Introduction to Professional Practice Indigenous Health
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Introduction to Professional Practice Indigenous Health


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  1. Why is it that Aboriginal people who have ‘mixed blood’ are the ones who succeed in life?
  2. Why are all Aboriginal people lazy bums?
  3. Why don't Aboriginal people take an interest in their own health?


The suggestion that 'Aboriginal people don’t take an interest in their own health' will be investigated to understand the behaviours and reasons leading to such questions. These include the stereotyped assumptions, social determinants of health, colonialism and assimilation, racism and poor faith in health care, which negatively impact behaviours of Aboriginal people towards health. The question will be deconstructed to understand the stereotypes and assumptions that contribute towards the framing of this question


Stereotyped assumptions

Australian Aboriginal people are known to suffer from an increased level of health issues compared to non-Aboriginal Australians. A report presented to the Centre of Health Outcomes and Innovations Research (CHOIR) conducted by McInman, 2000 involved 55 Aboriginal participants, both male and female, in the age of 16-91 years and interviewed them associated with their health and the difficulties they faced in accessing health care services.

Most of the participants perceived health as an important aspect of life. They felt that their health was important and thought a lot about it. Health measurement should be broader and go beyond quantifying levels through investigating how people assess their own state of health. Self-assessment of health is a method by which the overall health of a population and personal perceptions can be estimated. This involves the awareness of an individual and their expectations regarding their own health. Based on the Health survey in 2012-13, 39% of Aboriginal people reported excellent health, 37% as good and 24% as fair or poor. Aboriginal people demonstrating poor health were associated with long-term health conditions, which are linked with various social determinants (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2015). Although self-assessed health information from Aboriginal people provides the best report on their health status, it can sometimes be affected by inconsistencies in reporting for those who do not use English as their language.

Furthermore, a study conducted by Shahid et al, 2009 investigated the understanding, perspectives and beliefs of Aboriginal people in Australia about an illness like cancer and health services. The study showed that Aboriginal people had various misunderstandings and beliefs about illnesses, which affected their decisions associated with access to health care services. These beliefs prevailed due to poor education and awareness associated with health beliefs. This indicates various underlying social constructs which result in poor understanding and barriers that result in poor access to health care services.

Social determinants of health

Individuals' health is dependent on interactions of various complex factors, including biological, social, socio-economic, behavioural, and environmental factors. Factors like income, education, environment and personal behaviours play a major role in the determination of health. These factors contribute towards the health gap observed between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Australia (AIHW 2014). Socio-economic factors like education, household income and biomedical risks, including smoking, alcohol consumption, poor dietary and physical activities, result in poor health of Aboriginal people.

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