Inequality in health is one of the most controversial topics within Australian Health Care. Inequality in relation to health is defined as being “differences in health status or in the distribution of health determinants between different population groups” (World Health Organization, 2012). Within Australia inequality affects a wide range of population groups; however Indigenous Australians are most widely affected therefore this paper will focus on how inequality has impacted their health. Research shows that Australia’s Indigenous people suffer from a multitude of social and economic inequalities such as inadequate access to nutritious food and health care, being socially and economically ostracized, cultural barriers, discrimination, inadequate shelter and sanitation, and insufficient education (Commonwealth Grants Commission 2001, p. 58-60; Australian Human Rights Commission 2007), which all contribute to poor health physically, emotionally and spiritually. To gain a better understanding of the ill treatment of this population it is important to review Australian history and the affects on the individual and the community.
Throughout history Indigenous Australians have suffered great inequality at the hands of white settlers. In 1788 the British colonialists arrived claiming the continent as their own without respect or consideration for its inhabitants. The inequality suffered by the Indigenous due to this lack of respect was brutal and executed with contempt, such as large scale massacres, assimilation of Indigenous children (known as the stolen generation), the banishment of entire communities, and a loss of land impacting on the hunter gatherer lifestyle etc. (Australian Indigenous Health Info Net, 2011). Prior to the arrival of the British, “Indigenous Australians generally enjoyed better health … than most people living in Europe” (Australian Indigenous Health Info Net, 2011), this could be
References: Australian Indigenous Health Info Net. (2011). The context of Indigenous health. Retrieved March 23rd, 2012, from http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/health-facts/overviews/the-context-of-indigenous-health Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Duckett, S., & Willcox, S. (Eds.). (2011). The Australian Health Care System (pp. 33-35). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press. Freemantle, J., Officer, K., McAullay, D., & Anderson, I. (2007). Australian Indigenous health: Within an international context. Darwin, Australia: University of Western Australia, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, Universary of Western Australia. VicHealth. (2005). VicHealth position statement on health inequalities. Retrieved March 24th, 2012, from http://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/en/Search.aspx?q=health%20inequalities World Health Organisation