Promotion of Health in Aboriginal

Promotion of Health in Aboriginal

Promotion of health in aboriginal & Torres Strait islander people


Health encompasses physical well-being and cultural, social, and emotional well-being of the entire community. Thus, one can achieve their full potential, enhancing their whole community’s overall well-being. The national government has invested in many initiatives to address and reduce inequities and improve Aboriginals health and well-being. The aim is to closing the gap that exists in life expectancy, employment, education, housing, and other social well-being effects (Cargo et al 2019). The western approaches are inadequately equipped to accommodate the Indigenous peoples’ worldviews; thus, they are unlikely to add positively to the development of feasible health programs for Indigenous populations. The inadequacies stem mostly from the absence of culturally safe practices that effectively engage Aboriginals (Grey et al 2018). Culturally safe evaluations necessitate stakeholders with self-awareness of their assumptions, cultural bias and can exercise power in relations with the Indigenous persons, entities and community. This paper examines how cultural safety, self-determination, and collaboration are vital to safeguarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations’ health.

Interactions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) Peoples

The interactions with Aboriginals reveal a rich and robust history as one of the oldest cultures, which demonstrates resilience, strength, and tenacity. But, they face inequity in health outcomes, as evidenced by deplorable gap in life expectancy. The Aboriginal people have a lower life expectancy of 8.60 years (men) and 7.80 years (women) compared to the non-Aboriginal Australians (Jongen et al. 2018). Besides, they experience a considerably upper burden of the chronic diseases than the non-Aboriginals, mostly greater rates of kidney disease and disease. The unacceptable huge gap in diseases and, subsequently, lower life expectancy is attributed to the discriminatory policies, colonization processes, poor social determinants of health, historical and political marginalization (Ware 2013). The health social determinants clearly validate that their natives’ health is unusual affected by a myriad of factors. As a result, most Aboriginal people are hesitant to access health care. Health professionals play an essential role in shaping healthcare interactions with Aboriginal populaces by being positive and directed toward the Aboriginal patient and family needs.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a right of living safe, healthy, and empowered lives with robust connections to their rich cultures and nation. Health care interactions serve as a critical starting point to address the inequity. One of the vital elements of addressing existing inequitable health outcomes is improved cultural competency among health professionals and medical services to improve service engagement of Aboriginal people (Jongen et al. 2018). Culture influences the Aboriginals’ decisions about timing and reasons for seeking health services, their treatment acceptance, the probability of adherence to prescribed treatment and follow up care, and the success of health promotion and prevention strategies. Likewise, it is widely acknowledged that the delivery of health care to Aboriginal patients by Aboriginal healthcare professionals will improve accessibility to proper care and consequently improve health outcomes and address health inequity (Wilson et al. 2016). Nonetheless, the bulk of health professionals are not identified as Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islander persons. Hence, a surge in Aboriginals’ staff in the health industry is imperative and needs to be sustained and augmented in the near future.

The health care interactions with Aboriginal patients typically involve non-Aboriginal health professionals and Aboriginal patients in an intercultural space. Health professionals should work effectively within the intercultural space to close the gap by achieving actual work and collaboration (Wilson et al. 2016). Though, the intercultural spaces are not essentially a safe spaces for either Aboriginal patients or non-Aboriginal health professionals. Anxiety, unrest, or discomfort tend to arise due to the culture, one’s identity, and health issues, which are faced separately, and contrarily in the intercultural spaces (McDermott 2012). Professional training and development is essential in addressing Aboriginal health concerns and enabling the health professionals’ deal with emotions, difficulties, and discomfort in cross-cultural contexts (Wilson et al. 2020). This will maximize the benefits derived from these healthcare interactions and minimize inequity.

Health Service Delivery Advocacy

The Aboriginals face numerous challenges when accessing mainstream health services, including unwelcome settings, no transportation, narrow health concepts, mistrust, inflexible treatments, and alienation. This has occasioned in the reluctance to seek health services (Davy et al. 2016). To resolve the long-overdue inequity, health services delivery should be committed to the development of healthy and respectful collaborations between the national government, health service providers, and local communities. Additionally, services’ capacity should be increased to being responsive to Aboriginal’s health necessities (Taylor et al. 2013). The projected outcomes are improving the coordination between service providers and enhancing the accessibility of health services for the Aboriginal people. One of the critical elements to achieving these outcomes is effective and continued engagement with the local Aboriginal communities.

Community engagement encompasses constant consultations, communication, participation, partnerships, education, empowerment, and collaboration. The Aboriginal community’s involvement in health decision-making processes will require developing partnerships and building greater capacity (Durey et al. 2016). The enablers engaging the Aboriginals in an appropriate health promotion program include acknowledging the significance of local knowledge, cultural traditions, familiarization with the Aboriginals community, and the development of leadership networks. These enablers helped in building trust and gaining acceptance before the implementation of any health interventions. Moreover, community engagement’s success depends on whether the indigenous community members perceive benefits outweighing the time and costs of their participation. Therefore, the local communities and health providers’ engagement in the design and delivery of culturally responsive healthcare. The community engagement strategy will improve the delivery of health services for Aboriginals by increasing accessibility and fostering greater trust in healthcare.

Closing the Gap

There are various advocacy activities one can contribute towards closing the gap in health inequity in Australia. One of the best actions of advocating for significant change is self-education on the issues involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, building respect, and healthy relationships between cultures. Some of the issues to focus on self-education are the tragic historical actions in the shared history, persistent and continuing health issues, and essential concepts in the culture, comprising ‘Dreaming,’ languages, legal framework, and environment well as the role of kinship and family. Australia is a democratic state; one could use their voice to petition fundamental human rights for everyone, such as equality and impartiality.

Closing the gap embraces equality, and there are several political actions necessary to drive the movement forward. This includes writing to the local MP and Minister for Health and Indigenous Australians to seek financial support to close the gap in Aboriginals’ disadvantage. Thus, lobbying can increase investments to make health systems available, culturally safe, suitable, and responsive for all Aboriginals. Next, the National Close the Gap Day is in March. The attendance to the Close the Gap day national event is another way of bringing the cause to the local community and forefront of media. It also serves as a networking platform by working with likeminded people who believe change is needed in the healthcare sector. Finally, the use of personal social media networks is powerful and can lead to real change. This will aid in spreading awareness to family, colleagues, and friends about the present health status for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples by posting articles, sharing petitions, and influential speeches on social media channels.


The Australian Government has made investments in improving the health and overall well-being of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons by closing the gap in attaining health outcomes with the entire population. The paper examined the concepts of cultural safety, self-determination, and collaboration within the interactions with the Aboriginal patients, family members, and Aboriginal health workers. The Aboriginal people face inequity in health outcomes, as evidenced by the deplorable gap in life expectancy and the more significant chronic disease burden. This is mainly attributed to discriminatory policies, colonization processes, poor social determinants of health, historical and political marginalization. Health inequity can be lowered by engaging the local Aboriginal communities in designing and delivering culturally responsive healthcare. Finally, the article highlighted advocacy activities that can contribute to closing the gap in health inequity in Australia. They include advocating for significant change through self-education, petitioning fundamental human rights for everyone, seeking financial support, and participation in National Close the Gap Day events.

Reference List

Cargo, M., Potaka-Osborne, G., Cvitanovic, L., Warner, L., Clarke, S., Judd, J., Chakraborty, A. and Boulton, A., 2019. Strategies to support culturally safe health and wellbeing evaluations in Indigenous settings in Australia and New Zealand: a concept mapping study. International Journal for Equity in Health18(1), p.194.

Davy, C., Harfield, S., McArthur, A., Munn, Z. and Brown, A., 2016. Access to primary health care services for Indigenous peoples: A framework synthesis. International journal for equity in health15(1), p.163.

Durey, A., McEvoy, S., Swift-Otero, V., Taylor, K., Katzenellenbogen, J. and Bessarab, D., 2016. Improving healthcare for Aboriginal Australians through effective engagement between community and health services. BMC Health Services Research16(1), p.224.

Grey, K., Yamaguchi, J., Williams, E., Davis, V., Foster, D., Gibson, J. and Dunnett, D., 2018. The Strength of Indigenous Australian Evaluators and Indigenous Evaluation: A Snapshot of “Ways of Knowing and Doing” Reflecting on the 2014 Darwin Conference of the Australasian Evaluation Society. New Directions for Evaluation2018(159), pp.79-95.

Jongen, C., McCalman, J. and Bainbridge, R., 2018. Health workforce cultural competency interventions: a systematic scoping review. BMC health services research18(1), p.232.

McDermott, D., 2012. Can we educate out of racism. Med J Aust197(1), p.15.

Taylor, K.P., Bessarab, D., Hunter, L. and Thompson, S.C., 2013. Aboriginal-mainstream partnerships: exploring the challenges and enhancers of a collaborative service arrangement for Aboriginal clients with substance use issues. BMC health services research13(1), pp.1-8.

Ware, V., 2013. Improving the accessibility of health services in urban and regional settings for Indigenous people (Vol. 27). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Wilson, A.M., Kelly, J., Jones, M., O’Donnell, K., Wilson, S., Tonkin, E. and Magarey, A., 2020. Working together in Aboriginal health: a framework to guide health professional practice. BMC health services research20(1), pp.1-11.

Wilson, A.M., Kelly, J., Magarey, A., Jones, M. and Mackean, T., 2016. Working at the interface in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health: focussing on the individual health professional and their organisation as a means to address health equity. International journal for equity in health15(1), p.187.

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