Colonisation - It's bad for your health: The context of Aboriginal health

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Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2013, 46 (1), pp. 28 - 40
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© eContent Management Pty Ltd. Australia's history is not often considered to be an indicator of any person's health status. However, as health professionals we are taught the importance of taking and listening to our client's detailed history to assist us in our comprehension of the issues impacting upon their lives. This skill base is an important one in that it makes available valuable information that assists the health professional to be discerning of intimate and specific circumstances that could contribute to health related problems not previously diagnosed. It is a vital screening tool. I would like to advocate that history taking, that being Australia's colonial, political, social and economic histories be a course of action undertaken by all health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Health researchers of recent years have been able to clearly illustrate that there is a powerful relationship between health status and individuals or collectives; social, political and economic circumstances (Marmot, 2011; Marmot & Wilkinson, 2001; Saggers & Gray, 2007). This way of knowing how health can be affected through such social health determinants is an important health competency (Anderson, 2007 Marmot, 2011). As such this paper delivers a timeline of specific historical and political events, contributing to current social health determinants that are undermining Indigenous Australians health and well-being. This has been undertaken because most Australians including Indigenous Australians have not benefited from a balanced and well informed historical account of the past 200 and something years. The implication of this lack of knowing unfortunately has left its effect on the way health service providers have delivered health to Indigenous children, mothers, fathers, and their communities. Indigenous Australians view the way forward in improving health outcomes, as active partners in their health service delivery. This partnership requires health professionals to listen to their clients, with respect and a decolonising gaze.
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