The poor health position of Indigenous Australians is a contemporary reflection of their historical treatment as Australia’s traditional owners. This treatment has led to Indigenous Australians experiencing social disadvantages, significantly low socio-economic status, dispossession, poverty and powerlessness as a direct result of the institutionalised racism inherent in contemporary Australian society.
Indigenous populations have been the carers and custodians of Australia and the Torres Strait for a period in excess of 60,000 years before being invaded/colonialised by the British on January 26, 1788 (Hampton & Toombs, Racism, colonisation/colonialism and impacts on indigenous people, 2013). Before this time, it is suggested that Indigenous Australians lived relatively affluent lives and enjoyed generally better health than most people living in Europe (Hampton & Toombs, Indigenous Australian concepts of health and well-being, 2013). The arrival of introduced diseases, especially smallpox, caused considerable loss of life among Indigenous Australians. The impact of this is loss extended far beyond the immediate victims of disease, affecting the very fabric of Indigenous societies through depopulation and social disruption (MacRae, et al., 2012). Whilst introduced diseases were the most substantial part of the Indigenous Australians mortality, death caused by direct conflict also contributed significantly (Elder, 2003).
Traditionally, Indigenous Australians had complete autonomy over all parts of their lives such as, ceremonies, spiritual practices, medicine, social relationships, management of land and law and economic undertakings (Saggers & Gray, 1991). In addition to the impacts of introduced diseases and conflict, Indigenous Australians also experienced ill effects related to