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Code of Conduct of Health Professionals

Introduction to Indigenous Australian People

Good health of the indigenous population of a country is very important for that country, because these are the people who are actively involved in the growth and development of that country or region. The socio-economic and historical factors of that country largely impact the health of its indigenous people. The socio-economic determinants like the conditions in which a person is born, grow live, work, age, economic inequalities and historical factors all determine the health of an individual (Auger 2016). Health disparities between the indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Australia are quite prevalent. According to, Waterworth, et. al (2015) indigenous Australians tend to have a shorter life expectancy and bad health outcomes as compared to non-indigenous people. The following document gives an overview of these factors resulting health disparities of the indigenous Australian population and also briefly explains the principles and strategies of the Code of Conduct of healthcare professionals to address these healthcare concerns.

Factors Affecting Health of Indigenous Australian Population

Socio-economic and historical factors have shown to have influence on health of a population. The socio-economic factors reflect how a society in placed in order in terms of wealth, power, status, prestige or social standing. It is often observed that individuals with a better socio-economic status and who are better off depict better health (Chenhall & Senior 2017).

Indigenous people of Australia tend to participate in health-risk behaviour more as compared to non-indigenous people of Australia. As a result, this health-risk behaviour has a large impact on the health of these indigenous Australian people. Higher rates of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, mental disorders, and respiratory diseases is observed in indigenous Australian population than their non-indigenous counterparts. This health-risk behaviour is at times promoted by social disruptions associated with historical events in some circumstances. Health-risk behaviours such as alcohol abuse and drug addiction have a large impact on the health and is often found to be linked to social disruption. Also, the stress of associate with the daily life of people is a major factor nowadays that influences these health-risk behaviours in indigenous Australian people. Also, the social network or the peer group often is also seen to influence and promote health risk behaviour in in young indigenous Australian population. Societal factors like culture, politics, discrimination, social connections, psychological characteristics all influence the health of an individual.

Historical factor of cultural obligation on one member of the family put that member to health-risk behaviour. It is often a cultural obligation that one member of the family has to provide his family with food, shelter and other needs regardless of his own condition. This cultural and monetary obligations often impact the psychological and physical health of that member. Such associated stress promotes health-risk behaviour like alcohol misuse, smoking, etc. Lower economic status of some people also impacts the health. Due to lack of resources people do not pay attention to health. Peer pressure is one of the most common cause of health risk behaviour in the young people nowadays. Young indigenous Australian population is found to be more involved in activities like alcohol misuse, smoking, drug abuse, dealing in drug smuggling activities, etc. due to influence and promotion of these activities by the peer group.

Historical factors have also been a factor that has influences the health of Indigenous Australians. In the early years, when Australia was colonized racism was pervasive (Greenwood, Leeuw & Lindsay 2018). These indigenous people were enforced to live in mission camps, were prohibited from socialising with other fellow people, speaking their traditional languages and practicing their traditions and cultures, and geographical restrictions were applied. These restrictions led to loss in quality of life and altered the health, cultural and social behaviour of Indigenous Australians.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct registered with health professionals helps these professionals to deliver health services in accordance to an ethical framework. This code of conduct comprises of laid down standards for healthcare professionals’ behaviour or conduct in relation to providing good care to the people, shared decision making with the patients, working with other professionals, working within the framework of the healthcare system, etc (Jane 2017). Taking shared decisions about healthcare with patients is a responsibility of the professionals.

There exists cultural diversity amongst the healthcare professionals in Australia. These professionals have an important role in providing care to people who are unwell, assisting people who are recovering and always attempting maintaining good health of the people around them (Fisher, 2019). Thus, this Code of Conduct or sometimes referred as Code of ethics focuses on these roles of the healthcare professionals some of which have been discussed below.

  • One of the most important Code of Conduct for healthcare professionals is providing good care to their clients. Care of an unwell person is the primary principle for the healthcare professionals. Providing good care to the clients includes the strategies of assessing and examining the person with deteriorating health and considering the relevant history related to social, cultural, psychological factors, implementing a suitable management plan, continuing the care, and most importantly respecting the client’s rights to take their own decisions.
  • Another important principle of Code of Conduct is effective communication to the client. Effective communication involves the discussion with the client about their health and the available healthcare options, the effects of those options, awareness and research on health literacy, and responding to their queries.
  • Informed consent and shared decision making are another vital principle of this Code of Conduct. It is very important for the healthcare professional to explicitly inform the client about his health conditions and the healthcare plans which will be formulated to improve his health and then obtain a consent from the client before implementing any such healthcare treatments. Also, decision making about a particular healthcare plan is a shared responsibility of the healthcare professional and the client. Documentation of this informed consent is also essential activity of the healthcare professionals. It is the responsibility of the healthcare professional to respect the rights of the clients to make their informed decisions of healthcare plans and treatment activities. At times, the clients may wish to involve the decisions of their family members or other acquaintances. It is the responsibility of the healthcare professionals to address this.
  • Advising the client of any additional costs included in the healthcare, practicing a culturally safe practice, understanding one’s own limitation as a professional and working within those limitations are the important principles of Code of Conduct for healthcare professionals.

Conclusion on Code of Conduct of Health Professionals

There exist large disparities in the health status of the people all around the world, and is increasing day by day. The socio-economic factors and the historical factors of a region have an effect on the health of indigenous people of that region.

Each country on this globe is always committed to achieve the health of its citizens and continuously strives for it. The role of indigenous professionals is very important to improve the deteriorating health of the individuals around them. The government of a particular region engages and partner with these indigenous people for this purpose. The key mechanism for implementing solutions is through partnership, collaborations, and mutual understanding about a particular group.

The indigenous people help in this process as there well aware of a region, the social, cultural economic factors affecting that region and hence can develop solutions for concerns of that region. These government lays down specific Code of Conduct for the indigenous healthcare professionals. It is very is very important for the indigenous professionals to work within this framework of Code of Conduct for effective partnership solutions.

References for Code of Conduct of Health Professionals

Auger, M.D. (2016). Cultural continuity as a determinant of indigenous people’s health: A metasynthesis qualitative research in Canada and United States. The International Indigenous Policy Journal, 7(4), 1-27.

Chenhall, R.D. & Senior, K. (2017). Living the social determinants of health assemblages in a remote Aboriginal community. Medical Anthropology Quaterly, 32(2), 65-71.

Fisher, M., Battams, S., Mcdermott, D. & Baum, F. (2019). How the social determinants of indigenous health became policy reality for Australia’s national Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander health Plan. Journal of Social Policy, 48(1), 169-189.

Greenwood, M., Leeuw, S. & Lindsay, N.M (2018). Determinants of indigenous people’s health: Beyond the social. Toronto: CSP Books Inc.

Jane, M.J (2017). Ethics, evidence and the anti-vaccination debate. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 24(8), 132-159.

Waterworth, P., Pescud, M., Braham, R., Dimmock, J. & Rosenberg, M. (2015). Factors influencing the health behaviour of indigenous Australians: Perspectives from support people. Plos One, 10(11), 24-29.

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