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Reflection on Social Change Leader

Australia is a land which has majorly people belonging to two different cultural backgrounds either Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders or non-indigenous (Shimomura, 2018). Various factors are present in the society and culture which may act against the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and have an impact on their health outcome. The present reflective paper aims to discuss racism as a social determinant of health and role played by Anita Heiss as a change leader and the role of the registered nurse in culturally safe care.

There are health disparities which can be seen between the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-indigenous population (Chino et al., 2019). Historically it is seen that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander had poorer health and there are various biological, psychological and socioeconomic factors which influence their health (Steffens et al., 2016). Since the colonization and first contact with the Europeans, it is seen that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have faced racism in all the walks of life and it is a social determinant which has impacted their health outcomes (Paradies, 2016). Racism can be defined as the systems of beliefs and practices which gives power to non-indigenous population or whites making them superior to people of colour (Gee, 2016).

Racism affects health in multiple ways as it deprives them of education which affects the health-seeking behaviour (Bailey et al., 2017). Discontinuation of education or improper education affects the job and in turn, the socioeconomic condition which affects the affordability and accessibility to healthcare facilities. Within the healthcare system, the patients belonging to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders background may face discrimination based on their race (Markwick et al., 2019). This is mostly because of the personal perception of the healthcare professionals which might result in stereotypical thinking and have negative health outcomes.

There are many change leaders who work towards addressing racism as a social determinant and it is required so that the behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders change and they may enjoy the same privilege as others. Ms. Anita Heiss is one of the change leaders who through her works in literature, novels, books and poetry has created awareness regarding the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Pham, 2017). She believes that the key to transformation lies in the education and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders literacy is important for a reduction in discrimination. She states that her work is on the role of non-indigenous people in Australia in the identification, categorization and stereotyping of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders within different environments.

By the works that are published by Ms. Anita Heiss, she aims to confront her readers and educate them about the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (Anita Heiss, n.d.). To improve the health outcomes of indigenous people, non-indigenous people must learn and educate themselves. Education is the first step towards awareness which is required so that racism is reduced and equal treatment can begin which will help in reducing the health gap.

As per the registered nursing standard provided by the nursing and midwifery board of Australia, it is required that best level of care is provided to the patient and it should appropriate and safe (Cashin et al., 2017). While providing care to the patient, it should be borne in mind that as per the international human rights commission that everyone is entitled to the best level of health that is possible (Sanggaran et al., 2016). Whenever there is a patient from a different cultural background, it is required that as a registered nurse, the cultural background of the patient is appropriately identified.

There can be some amount of linguistic barrier and when faced such a challenge it is required that barrier is overcome. As a registered nurse, it is required that the patient care is appropriate in all the sense of physical as well as mental, spiritual and cultural(Reimer-Kirkham et al., 2019). To cater to this, it is required that there is cultural identification, cultural reflection, based on which the care provided should be culturally safe and sensitive. The main thing is to connect with the patient and make him/her comfortable. There is the provision of an Aboriginal liaison officer who can be present with the patient (McGough et al., 2017). Being from a similar background as that of the patient can help put the patient on ease.

In conclusion, working in the field of healthcare there can be patient with different backgrounds and the patients must be given an equal level of care with respect and dignity. Racism is one of the social determinants which affect the health outcome of people. By the works of Ms. Anita Heiss, it is seen that education is important for curbing racism. As a registered nurse it is required that all the patients are treated equally, the provision of culturally sensitive care and use of aboriginal liaison officer.


Anita Heiss (N.d.). Working Note. 

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Cashin, A., Heartfield, M., Bryce, J., Devey, L., Buckley, T., Cox, D., ... & Fisher, M. (2017). Standards for practice for registered nurses in Australia. Collegian, 24(3), 255-266. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.colegn.2016.03.002.

Chino, M., Ring, I., Pulver, L. J., Waldon, J., & King, M. (2019). Improving health data for indigenous populations: The international group for indigenous health measurement. Statistical Journal of the IAOS, 35(1), 15-21. https://doi.org/10.3233/SJI-180479.

Gee, G. C. (2016). Racism as a social determinant of health inequities. Leveraging the Social Determinants to Build a Culture of Health, 1-2.

Markwick, A., Ansari, Z., Clinch, D., & McNeil, J. (2019). Experiences of racism among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults living in the Australian state of Victoria: A cross-sectional population-based study. BMC Public Health, 19(1), 309. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6614-7.

McGough, S., Wynaden, D., & Wright, M. (2018). Experience of providing cultural safety in mental health to Aboriginal patients: A grounded theory study. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 27(1), 204-213. https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12310.

Paradies, Y. (2016). Colonisation, racism and indigenous health. Journal of Population Research, 33(1), 83-96. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12546-016-9159-y.

Pham, K. (2017). Indigenous author Anita Heiss opens new chapter at UC. https://www.canberra.edu.au/about-uc/media/newsroom/2017/june/anita-heiss-opens-new-chapter-at-uc.

Reimer-Kirkham, S., Astle, B., Ero, I., Panchuk, K., & Dixon, D. (2019). Albinism, spiritual and cultural practices, and implications for health, healthcare, and human rights: A scoping review. Disability & Society, 34(5), 747-774. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2019.1566051.

Sanggaran, J. P., Haire, B., & Zion, D. (2016). The health care consequences of Australian immigration policies. PLoS Medicine, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001960.

Shimomura, T. (2018). Ethnic diversity and the color line in Australian metropolises: Experiences of urban indigenous youths. Global Urban Studies, 11, 17-28. https://doi.org/10.14992/00015667.

Steffens, M., Jamieson, L., & Kapellas, K. (2016). Historical factors, discrimination and oral health among Aboriginal Australians. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 27(1), 30-45. https://doi.org/10.1353/hpu.2016.0029.

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