• Internal Code :
  • Subject Code :
  • University : Western Sydney University
  • Subject Name : Public health

Social Determinants of Health for Aboriginal People

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have faced severe social disadvantage in which the social determinants of health such as education, employment, power, social support and income play a major role. Neville Bonner was one of the most prominent Australian leader who was successful in bringing up positive change for improving education for the Aboriginal people in Australia. The reflection will discuss the ways in which education act as a barrier to Aboriginal health and wellbeing followed by the measures taken by Neville Bonner in enhancing the health outcomes. Finally, the reflection will discuss the nursing strategies that are culturally competent and safe.

Social determinant of health are the social factors that impact the health and safety of the people (Felner, Dudley & Ramirez-Valles, 2018). These factors include income, education, employment, and power. Moreover, some of the important social determinants of health for the Aboriginal and TSI people in Australia are connectedness to culture, family, identity and land. A number of government policies were laid back in the Aboriginal history which impacted these determinants for the Aboriginal people. According to Wilson et al., (2019), education have direct impact over Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

The health gap among the Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people is significantly high because of lack of education and awareness among the people. Poor education lead to poor awareness in context of disease management. Education act as a major factor that bring up economic growth in a society (Wilson et al., 2019). Uneducated people can lead to unemployed people and unemployment can further bring up financial instability. Poor finances makes it hard for people to reach the required resources. Moreover, poor education as a social determinant of health can lead to lack of acceptance to the preventive measures and this can ultimately bring up health and wellness issues.

There are a number of leaders that have an important role in addressing the needs and social determinants of health for promoting equal health and wellbeing to the Indigenous people. One of the most important change leader in Australian history is Neville Bonner (Jacobs, 2019). He was the first Aboriginal representative in the parliament. Bonner produced a number of books that motivate the Aboriginal youth to overcome their social determinants of health. These books include the black power in Australia, Equal share, Equal world and “For the love of Children”. During the 1960s the Australian government was focused on the assimilation policy by integrating the Aboriginal children in church based education system. Bonner was the one to present the actual needs of the Aboriginal children and argued in the favor of self-determination.

The principle of self-determination gave opportunities to the Aboriginal people to pursue their social interest and it is the fundamental human right under international law (Maguire & McGee, 2017). Bonner was successful in presenting the education specific needs of the Aboriginal students which resulted in many positive health changes among the society.

Nurses and Midwives must be culturally competent while proving care to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Cultural competence is the ability of a nurse that enable her to follow interventions and steps that are culturally safe and effective (Henderson et al., 2018). Standard 1 of the registered nurse standards for practice suggest a registered nurse to respect all the cultures and experiences which underpin the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal people (NMBA, 2017). As a registered nurse I will try to deliver quality healthcare to all the people by ensuring cultural safety and cultural competence. I will use interventions such as cultural awareness, respect and empathy toward the patients and patient-centered care for pursuing cultural competence in my care.

Cultural awareness involve in-depth exploration of the cultural background of a person (Henderson et al., 2018). Using a cultural awareness assessment tool can help me attain the goal of cultural safety through cultural awareness. Having respect and empathy toward the Aboriginal patients can make them feel comfortable. This enable them to interact properly and hence it can impart cultural competence. Further, patient-centered care is an inclusive care that allow the Aboriginal patients and their families to have an active role in their treatment (Oikarainen et al., 2019). This can not only increase patient satisfaction but can also enhance cultural competence.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been socially disadvantaged since ages in terms of education, employment, health and wellbeing and economy. Faulty government polices made them vulnerable to a number of health crisis. Lack of education as a social determinant of health have major negative impact on them. Neville Bonner mentioned the principle of self-determination and said that every person have equal right to choose their education properly. Nursing interventions such as patient–centered care, cultural awareness and respect toward the patients can yield better healthcare results.


Felner, J. K., Dudley, T. D., & Ramirez-Valles, J. (2018). “Anywhere but here": Querying spatial stigma as a social determinant of health among youth of color accessing LGBTQ services in Chicago's Boystown. Social Science & Medicine, 213, 181-189

Henderson, S., Horne, M., Hills, R., & Kendall, E. (2018). Cultural competence in healthcare in the community: a concept analysis. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(4), 590-603.

Jacobs, S. (2019). Indigenous Australians and the Monarchy's promise the legacy of Neville Bonner. Quadrant, 63(7/8), 74.

Maguire, A., & McGee, J. (2017). A Universal Human Right to Shape Responses to a Global Problem? The Role of Self‐Determination in Guiding the International Legal Response to Climate Change. Review of European, Comparative & International Environmental Law, 26(1), 54-68

NMBA. (2017). Registered nurse standards for practice. Retrieved from https://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/Professional-standards/registered-nurse-standards-for-practice.aspx

Oikarainen, A., Mikkonen, K., Kenny, A., Tomietto, M., Tuomikoski, A. M., Meriläinen, M., & Kääriäinen, M. (2019). Educational interventions designed to develop nurses’ cultural competence: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 98, 75-86.

Wilson, B., Abbott, T., Quinn, S. J., Guenther, J., McRae-Williams, E., & Cairney, S. (2019). Empowerment is the basis for improving education and employment outcomes for Aboriginal people in remote Australia. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 48(2), 153-161.

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