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How Your Health Services Has Adapted Its Practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consumers 

Introduction to Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

More than 500 Indigenous people were inhabiting in the land of Australia prior of British settlement. Culture of these Indigenous people is of 60,000 years old and thus they are the custodians of the world’s most ancient culture tat are alive. Their relationship with the land is quite close and they are responsible to hold the custody of their own motherland or country (Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016). With the colonization, mostly the British colonization, the Australia’s First People or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has undergone devastating consequences. Not just their culture and socioeconomic status but their health and well-being are also compromised. Colonization has resulted serious issues like racism, inequity and obstruction in the cultural development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Not only that, there was a wave of epidemic diseases that occurred during the colonization period like influenzas, measles and smallpox that has taken lot of lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous communities were new to the disease and their bodies are not used to such deadly viruses. They even do not have adequate medical facilities during that time that led to uncontrolled deaths of those Indigenous people. That has created fear in the minds of the people and also about the uncertainties of the healthcare facilities which they really need. Although time has changed, yet the status and standard has not upgraded. Some of the consequences of the colonization on the lives and well-being of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population include,

  • They still struggle to get their own houses and are in the waiting lists while additional 2000 houses were allotted to the non-indigenous people
  • Their per head income annually is less or half of that of the other non-indigenous people of the country ((Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016)
  • They also lack proper education as the statistics shows almost 32% of the indigenous people has never seen the school or got basic education in their lifetime
  • The rate of unemployment is also high among the non-indigenous people which eventually lowers their socioeconomic status in the society
  • Life expectancy of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is also low compared to rest of the population of the country. This is because of the low and poor healthcare facilities that are provided to them (Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016)
  • Homicide rate is also high among this population along with highest rate of crime due to various reasons listed above
  • They are also deprived of their shares of motherland which they are the primary owners due to may legal, social and political reasons (Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., ... & West, R. (2018)

Considering everything listed above, the condition and situation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population is not in a good shape which has created lot of mental and health issues among the population. People are losing their confidence, self-esteem and respect that has affected the value and credibility of this population.

Discussion on Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Department of Health of the Australian government has been trying hard to safeguard the cultural values of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population along with prioritizing their health and wellbeing (Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016). Cultural safety is much more important for this population than their own health and this is also critical as it is the only way through which their cultural values could be preserved and passes on to their next generation. Cultural safety mostly refers to an environment which is socially. Spiritually, emotionally and physically safe for the people along with no risk or chance of any kind of assault that would compromise the dignity and existence of a specific culturally rich population. Practice of cultural safety ahs been adopted and implemented log back so that the native or indigenous people and their values could be preserved (Bovill, M., Bar-Zeev, Y., Gruppetta, M., O’Mara, P., Cowling, B., & Gould, G. S. (2018). Being one of the oldest human beings’ cultures, their values needs to be recognized and attempts are made to save them in the most appropriate manner. Government has imposed the culturally safe practices in healthcare that will value the cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population help in focusing their health and well-being. Certain guidelines are defined in support of the cultural safety program includes,

  • Reflection and prioritization of the one’s own culture its related attributes
  • Valuing open, clear and respectful communication that would help in both ways understanding (Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016)
  • Understanding the meaning of culture shock and should avoid anything that would increase the risk of culture shock
  • Any type of stereotypical barriers need to be avoided (Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., ... & West, R. (2018)

Relationship with the land is quite close and they are responsible to hold the custody of their own motherland or country. With the colonization, mostly the British colonization, the Australia’s First People or the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population has undergone devastating consequences. Not just their culture and socioeconomic status but their health and well-being are also compromised. Health services has adapted its practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers with the support and guidance of the Federal government and even the small and the local administration has designed and defined some healthcare practices along with some common yet effective practices that needs to be followed and those includes,

  • Use of people language and that should be sensitive enough to be used on an effective manner (Skerrett, D. M., Gibson, M., Darwin, L., Lewis, S., Rallah, R., & De Leo, D. (2018)
  • Understanding the history of their cultures and act in a way that it would showcase respect and dignity towards their priceless cultures (Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., ... & West, R. (2018)
  • Communication should be utilized in a way that it should not be misunderstood, rather should help in developing trust
  • Following the protocols laid by the administration or the government that would vouch for the community interest (Bovill, M., Bar-Zeev, Y., Gruppetta, M., O’Mara, P., Cowling, B., & Gould, G. S. (2018)
  • Working collaboratively with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population so as to have a plan that would be designed specifically and in a customized manner for the people only

All the above would certainly help in uplifting the condition and the position of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community along with respecting and valuing their rich culture. Healthcare is the main aspect and the same thing would be prioritized in the most effective manner focusing on all types of critical aspects involved so that these community does not fell neglected rather valuing them and respecting their rich culture and try to safeguard it for future. It will also help in lowering some of the issues they have been facing since long and could be providedrs

Conclusion on Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Colonization has resulted serious issues like racism, inequity and obstruction in the cultural development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. Not only that, there was a wave of epidemic diseases that occurred during the colonization period like influenzas, measles and smallpox that has taken lot of lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Indigenous communities were new to the disease and their bodies are not used to such deadly viruses (Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016). They even do not have adequate medical facilities during that time that led to uncontrolled deaths of those Indigenous people. That has created fear in the minds of the people and also about the uncertainties of the healthcare facilities which they really need. Cultural safety is much more important for this population than their own health and this is also critical as it is the only way through which their cultural values could be preserved and passes on to their next generation.

Cultural safety mostly refers to an environment which is socially (Bovill, M., Bar-Zeev, Y., Gruppetta, M., O’Mara, P., Cowling, B., & Gould, G. S. (2018). Spiritually, emotionally and physically safe for the people along with no risk or chance of any kind of assault that would compromise the dignity and existence of a specific culturally rich population. Practice of cultural safety has been adopted and implemented log back so that the native or indigenous people and their values could be preserved. Being one of the oldest human beings’ cultures, their values needs to be recognized and attempts are made to save them in the most appropriate manner (Skerrett, D. M., Gibson, M., Darwin, L., Lewis, S., Rallah, R., & De Leo, D. (2018). Not just their culture and socioeconomic status but their health and well-being are also compromised.

Health services has adapted its practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consumers with the support and guidance of the Federal government and even the small and the local administration has designed and defined some healthcare practices along with some common yet effective practices that needs to be followed (Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., ... & West, R. (2018). Government has imposed the culturally safe practices in healthcare that will value the cultures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population help in focusing their health and well-being. Understanding the history of their cultures and act in a way that it would showcase respect and dignity towards their priceless cultures. Communication should be utilized in a way that it should not be misunderstood, rather should help in developing trust.

References for Health Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Bennett-Levy, J., Singer, J., DuBois, S., & Hyde, K. (2017). Translating e-mental health into practice: what are the barriers and enablers to e-mental health implementation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals?. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(1), e1.

Bovill, M., Bar-Zeev, Y., Gruppetta, M., O’Mara, P., Cowling, B., & Gould, G. S. (2018). Collective and negotiated design for a clinical trial addressing smoking cessation supports for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers in NSW, SA and Qld–developing a pilot study. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 23(6), 497-503.

Calma, T., Dudgeon, P., & Bray, A. (2017). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and mental health. Australian Psychologist, 52(4), 255-260.

Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., ... & West, R. (2018). Birthing on Country (in Our Community): a case study of engaging stakeholders and developing a best-practice Indigenous maternity service in an urban setting. Australian Health Review, 42(2), 230-238.

Kuipers, P., Harvey, D., Lindeman, M. A., & Stothers, K. (2014). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners in rural areas: credentialing, context and capacity building.

Povey, J., Mills, P. P. J. R., Dingwall, K. M., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., ... & Nagel, T. (2016). Acceptability of mental health apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: a qualitative study. Journal of medical Internet research, 18(3), e65.

Puszka, S., Dingwall, K. M., Sweet, M., & Nagel, T. (2016). E-mental health innovations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: a qualitative study of implementation needs in health services. JMIR mental health, 3(3), e43.

Skerrett, D. M., Gibson, M., Darwin, L., Lewis, S., Rallah, R., & De Leo, D. (2018). Closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth suicide: A social–emotional wellbeing service innovation project. Australian psychologist, 53(1), 13-22.

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