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Social Determinants Impacting the Life of Elderly in Aboriginal Population of Australia

Table of Contents


Priority actions


Reference List

Introduction to Social Determinants

In this report, there would be a discussion on the social determinants impacting the life of elderly in aboriginal population of Australia. Following that would be the review of the steps and initiatives taken by its government to close the gap.

Background on Social Determinants

The health system in Australia is considered to be one of the best in the entire world and it is run by all levels of Australian Government – state, local and federal. It provides safe and affordable services for all Australians. Medicare is the health foundation of the country which has three categories – medical services, medicines and public hospitals (Calma & Dick, 2007; Lane, 2019). Many population groups are suffering even though the health system is advanced in the country from harmful health issues and one of them is recognised as the people in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in Australia. It has been a challenge for the government since long and the space between indigenous and non-indigenous is exceptionally wide which raises alarms as it is identified by UN committees.

The population of the country is gaining day by day therefore, there has been a drastic shift in the age group of older population as well. In the year of 2017, 2.2 million of older people were in the age group of 65 to 74 (aihw.gov.au, 2018). This indicates that a significant amount of population comprises of elder people and hence they should be looked after more carefully, especially in their health care matters. Among seven people in Australia, one was found to be from the age group of elderly. Due to this there has been a significant demand in the care of aged that has led to the development and training of more aged care service providers. The health issues faced by them are dying at younger ages than the non-indigenous people. They are more prone to respiratory diseases, cardiovascular issues, chronic kidney and mental health problems along with diabetes (Benefield, 2014). All of these diseases is vastly influenced by prevalence of obesity, alcohol, low fruit and vegetable consumption and high blood cholesterol and pressure. In general, the diet of Aboriginal and Indigenous people of Australia, is poor which carves the path for the income of the mentioned frightening diseases (Michie & West, 2014).

Why Identified Social Determinants Need to Be Prioritised

The health of a community is determined by varied health related factors like lifestyle, income, unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, poor diet, the surrounding environment lack of awareness about health care and chronic diseases - its symptoms, general care and access to medicines.

The life expectancy gap in between the indigenous and non-indigenous people is of 17 years in Australia (humanrights.gov.au, 2020). The mentioned group of people are not given the same opportunity to be as healthy and active then the other Australians. This is because they are at socio-economic disadvantage and they are posed to greater exposure of threat than any other group of people. The Aboriginal and Indigenous people generally live in conditions that cannot support healthy life at any cost. They are unable to access primary health care or visit health care infrastructures, as none of them is in their communal area is as effective as it should be. Issues like unavailability of safe drinking water, lack of waste collection system, in effective sewerage system and lack of proper healthy accommodation are the reasons of the poor state of health among these people (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.)

The inequality which is noticed in the health status of these people is due to the long prevailing systematic discrimination. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer from the lack of access to use the mainstream facilities and health services. This eradicates them from the opportunity to have a primary health care and acceptable provision of health organization in their area.

Goals/Objectives of Social Determinants

As the above mentioned health issues in Aboriginal and Indigenous people is causing an alarming threat to the overall health status of the country, the government has out to take some major steps in reducing the rate of poor health. This is accompanied by increasing funding for the construction of health infrastructures and centres where primary care is provided and is also affordable to the Aboriginal and Indigenous people. Therefore, the main objective or goal of the Australian Government is to close the gap in between the access to facilities of health care and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This will particularly aim at reducing the disadvantage faced by them that has not allowed them from long to raise their health status up to the mark. The government has taken initiatives and plans to seal this gap by 2031 (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.). The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) has been monitoring the set objectives and releases annual report on ‘closing the gap’, in order to be updated and record the progresses. The objective of the COAG is to reduce the inequality in health services by forming a policy that specifically addresses to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. This is done through the development of a health policy framework and process of partnership with them in the economy.

Alignment with Government and Global Health Agenda

The government has committed to a long term collaborative approach to address the poor health status among them as it is considered a matter of complete perseverance. The list of aims included in the strategic implementation are as follows (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.)

  • To increase the level of life expectancy so that the large gap in between the non-indigenous and indigenous people decreases and comes to an equal rate.
  • To decrease the rate of mortality by providing adequate care to the elderly people.
  • To reduce comparative deficiency and improvement in the quality of life and wellbeing.
  • To decrease the causes that influence the increment in mortality rates across all ages.
  • To strengthen the health infrastructure which is extremely essential to provide the Aboriginal and Indigenous people with efficient health services.
  • To respond to chronic health diseases and communicable diseases mostly in elder population.
  • To respond to injury and violence, abuse and assault inflicted by domestic sources.
  • To respond to the misuse of substance leading to poor health conditions and the illness of mental conditions posing anxiety, stress and trauma in the population of elderly.

All of the above aims will lead to the achievement of a more operative and approachable health system. The focus would be largely put on monitoring the health services being provided in their communal area, the distribution of the developed healthcare framework (humanrights.gov.au, 2020). Another area of focus would be hiring and training of health care workforce to adhere the dominant issues in a well-organized way while focusing on social and emotional wellbeing of the population.

The government is also trying to implement strategies that influence the health status through non health sector like improving the living conditions and spreading the awareness about health care promotion. It is committed to install effective health infrastructures, so the chronic diseases can be diagnosed timely (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.)

The government has opted for various approaches to address the issues mentioned above. Some of these approaches are as follows.

Cultural Respect - The government ensures to maintain and respect the cultural diversity and expectations of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander while providing them health services.

Holistic Approach – The government shall adhere to the wellness of physical, spiritual, emotional, social wellbeing, cultural, governance and community capacity to improve the health status of these people (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.)

Health sector responsibility – The government shall make all the provided health care facilities to be responsive to the needs of the Aboriginal and Indigenous people to support them completely.

Community control of primary health care services – Allowing the community to take participation in health care decisions and making them a fundamental element of the developing health system supported by the government.

Working together – The government has opted to collaborate the efforts of private and public establishments to support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Promoting good health – The government is keen to promote the benefits of good health as a core activity to prevent illness (Australian Human Rights Commission, n.d.).

Priority Actions

Description of tasks to implement recommendation – Responsibility or owner(s) of tasks

In order to address the challenge of poor status in Aboriginal and Indigenous people the government can follow the provided recommendations.

1. To be patient as the implementation of strategies will require a long term action and commitment from the government.

2. To focus in progress rates by making significant development in the health care area through targeted action and contentedness.

3. To achieve equality in health status by negotiating the level of participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Timeframes /Milestones

The government has committed to a 25 year framework to close the gap between Aboriginal, Indigenous people and other population group of Australia

Metrics to Monitor Progress

The metrics to monitor progress are the status of smoking record, alcohol consumption and reduction in the rate of chronic diseases like cardiovascular and respiratory ones. In 2017, 231 primary health care centres received funding to provide with efficient and adequate health related services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aihw.gov.au, 2020).

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria of achieving the goal set by the government to reduce the inequality in between the other population of Australia and Aboriginal, Indigenous people is to maintain the capacity of the health centres and infrastructure being set up in their communal area. Another is to conduct a survey to test the health care benefit awareness among people.


Conclusion on Social Determinants

It can be concluded that the Australian government has taken solid initiatives to address the issue of inequality of health issues in the elderly people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Reference List for Social Determinants

AIHW, (2020). National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/e0f2fc45-cbe4-4c52-a7c1-9a00648b42f2/aihw-ihw-200.pdf.aspx?inline=true

Australian Human Rights Commission, (n.d.) Achieving aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health Equality Within a Generation- A human Rights Based Approach. Retrieved from https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/publications/achieving-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-health-equality-within#existing

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, 2020. Nutrition. Retrieved from https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/learn/determinants-of-health/health-behaviours/nutrition/

Benefield, L. E. (2014). Facilitating Aging in Place: Safe, Sound, and Secure, An Issue of Nursing Clinics, E-Book (Vol. 49, No. 2). Elsevier Health Sciences.

Calma, T., & Dick, D. (2007). Social determinants and the health of Indigenous peoples in Australia—A human rights-based approach. In International Symposium on the Social Determinants of Indigenous Health. Adelaide.

Lane, A. P. (2019). Urban Environments for Healthy Ageing: A Global Perspective. Routledge.

Michie, S. F. A. L., West, R.(2014). The behaviour change wheel: a guide to designing interventions., Silverback Publishing.

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