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Discuss how the Policy of Assimilation 1961 has impacted on the overall health status of Australian Indigenous Men and Women today
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This assignment aims to link the shared history and prior Australian Government Policies for the Indigenous population about the current politically engineered health crisis. In this assessment, the focus will be given to the prior and current health status of Australian Indigenous peoples and Governmental policies.
Pre-invasion health status of “Australian Indigenous Peoples.”
The history of Indigenous Australian is at least 65,000 years old, and it is considered that they are the first ones who started to live in the Australian continental landmass (Uink et al., 2022). The Australian tribal community can be categorised into two groups: Australian Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander People. Both of these communities are distinctive from each other based on their language, culture and ethnicity. As per many researchers, from the perspective of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, good health is a comprehensive notion that encompasses physical, social, emotional, cultural, and spiritual well-being for both the individual and society (Gentile, Carter & Jobson, 2022). Many researchers also believe that, before the colonisation or arrival of Europeans, the main occupation of these communities were hunting -they used to be sturdy hunter or gatherers, and this active lifestyle promoted good health. Some evidence proves that, in 1770, when Cook charted the east coast of Australia, the Aboriginals and people of the Torres Islands used to spend healthy livelihoods compared to any British or European people. The biomedical model of medical care Indigenous Australians used to depend on traditional methods to acquire holistic health and well-being. For example, Aboriginal people have robust oral pharmacopoeia.
Current Health Status of Australian Indigenous Peoples
After approximately 50,000 years of the origin of Aboriginal People with a strong and intact culture, the population was annihilated by diseases introduced by the Europeans. This sudden outbreak of diseases displaced the aboriginal population from their land and forced them to change their livelihoods. Now, after 200 years on, in spite of several attempts or initiatives of the Governmental, the health status of the Aboriginal people of Australia is deteriorating drastically in comparison to other Australians and the indigenous population in the United States and New Zealand (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). As per the given by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the mortality pattern among the Indigenous population is like that:
- The life expectancy for indigenous males born between 2015 to 2018 is 71.5 years.
- The life expectancy for the Indigenous female born in 2015-2018 is 75. 5 years.
The Australian Burden of Disease Study shows that, in 2018-19, the entire aboriginal population lost 240,000 years (on average) of healthy livelihoods due to premature death and the continuous outbreak of disease. And this figure is equivalent to 288 years for every 1,000 individuals.
Assimilation Policy of 1961
The policy of assimilation refers to the fact that “all the aboriginal people and the sub-group of the aboriginal population of Australia must have the equal right to lead a similar lifestyle like other Australians. They that the right to live as the member of a single Australian community, and will access the same privilege and legal rights, and accept the same customs as other Australians” (Assimilation Policy. (2022).
Since the 1930s, the growing case of mistreatment of Aboriginal people in central and northern Australia led to the demand for direct involvement of Commonwealths in aboriginal affairs. The term “assimilation” refers to the aspect of the policy to protect the future of aborigines (the mixed blood) in settled areas. In 1950, the “assimilation concept” was accepted by the aboriginal people and enlisted as “policy” by the Commonwealth and all the State and Federal Governments of Australia.
The link between the Assimilation Policy of 1961 and the present Health Status of Australian Indigenous Peoples
Racism-determinant of health for Indigenous Australians
Racism is considered one of the main determinant factors of health for the Indigenous population in Australia. As per Yashadhana et al. (2020), currently, “Racism” has been highlighted as a national issue in Australia because it threatens the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Some recent studies show that 30 per cent of Aboriginals and Indigenous people between the age of 15 years and more have reported experiencing racial discrimination while accessing primary healthcare and support in the past 1 year. Many studies explore that effect of racism on the health of the indigenous population of Australia is associated with self-reported racism and poor-health outcome, lack of access to primary health care and support, and poor and distorted mental and physical health outcomes.
Australian Indigenous Men in Sport
Since the last few decades, the incident rate of races has been lessening in Australia. This is due to the change of attitude and point-of-view among the population of the country.
Additionally, due to the advancement of solid acceptance of the practices against transparent communication, the racist view within the society and people of Australia. Though, research shows that there are several open platforms or forums where racism is still practised. One such platform is sports: as per AHRC or Australian Human Rights Commission, racism in sports in the country has a long history (Gruer et al. 2021). In 2018, the government of Australia surveyed two rural and two metropolitan areas of Victoria by taking 750 aboriginals as the respondents. In this survey, 49 per cent of the respondents agreed that aboriginals and indigenous people face racism in sports (Power et al. 2020). Over the past two decades, the Australian Football league, or AFL, has taken several initiatives to increase Indigenous involvement in sports. In recent years, AFL has conducted several; community programs and academies to increase the engagement and participation rates of the Indigenous and aboriginal population of Australia in sports. In 2019, AFL announced the team list of 839 players who will play the elite level of the sport. In this list, 10 per cent of the players belong to indigenous heritage, and 15 per cent were from multicultural heritage (Eades et al. 2020). However, some surveys show that the majority of the players from multicultural heritage come from the White European bracket.
The Assimilation Policy of 1961 did not have the intended effect, as evidenced by the bigotry the Indigenous people had to deal with. The discriminatory racial experience did not affect psychological well-being. However, facing racial discrimination in public places was associated with having extremely high or very high levels of mental discomfort.
Australian Indigenous Pregnant Women
Racial discrimination is one of the main societal concerns in Australia. In the country, a wide gap in health status and disparity in access to health services can be evident in every domain. This gap can also be evident in the health service provision for pregnant Indigenous and non-indigenous women population. According to Ali et al. (2021), racism can be considered as a chronic psychosocial stressor, as it can affect the psychological processes and physiological responses, which in turn can harm the clinical and subjective health and well-being of people. In Australia, the effect of this stressor on pregnancy is becoming a concern. It can negatively affect a mother's mental health, labour delivery, and child development. Carroll et al. (2021) has mentioned that exposure to racism at the pre and post-natal time can be associated with the onset of depression and poor mental health for the mother of an aboriginal or indigenous group. Many surveys show that high stress during pregnancy, such as racism or discrimination, can cause preterm birth or low birth weight and long-term infant development issues. A survey shows that during the years 2008-2012, the maternal mortality rate among aboriginal females to others in Australia is 13.8 versus 6.6 in every 1,00,000. Additionally, the pregnant women population in aboriginal and indigenous communities are less likely to go to antenatal visits during the first trimester than the non-indigenous women population ( 53% vs 60%) (Lino, 2017).
According to Australia's National Maternity Service plan, the country is the most secure nation in the world for conceiving offspring or being conceived. Though, for the indigenous population, the scenario is quite different (ALRC. (2022). The children from the Indigenous population are thrice more vulnerable to facing early-age developmental issues than non-indigenous children.
Australian Indigenous Men and Women
The significant discrimination being faced by the Australian Indigenous population in terms of unfair rejection from job opportunities and unfairly discouraged from continuing their education. A survey found that the percentage of Indigenous and Aboriginal people experiencing significant discrimination increased in 2019-20 from 29 per cent to 52 per cent. The board member of Inclusive Australia, Ian Hamm, believes that the rate of racial discrimination among the aboriginal and indigenous population of Australia has been raised due to the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, which ignited and exacerbated the existing prejudice in society (Hefler et al. 2019). A survey carried out by Monash University shows that in December 2020, 49,80 per cent of the people from the indigenous community of Australia faced racial discrimination, like unfair treatment in society and unfairly denial of job promotion (Hedges et al. 2021). Discouragement from continuing education. Recently, the indigenous population has started to raise their voice through the “Black Lives Matter” Movement- which can be considered the “pinpoint” of racial discrimination.
The indigenous population, including men and women, and children of Australia, experience significant disparities in health, well-being, and development worldwide. According to Dunstan, Hewitt & Nakata, (2020), all these results are directly related to the Assimilation Policy, which was formulated in 1961. Considering the notion of the assimilation policy in 1961, it can be stated that racism has an extensive level of effect on the health status of the Indigenous population of Australia. The effect extends from adverse outcomes in general health, behavioural and cognitive problems, life satisfaction and healthcare utilisation.
Considering the above report gave me a deep insight into the current health status of Aboriginal or indigenous people, including men, women and children in Australia. From this discussion, I found that, in the initial period or pre-invasion period, the overall health status or condition of the indigenous people was quite robust and decent. They had access to appropriate medical services, as the medical care was entirely in possession of the traditional method. In the post-invasion period or during colonisation, the health status of the Indigenous population of the country started deteriorating. The interference of Europeans in their livelihood, mistreatment and exploitation forced the aboriginal communities to move from their land and change their lifestyle. Continuous exploitation, exploitation and criticism of the aboriginal people in northern and central Australia have led to giving rise of the Assimilation concept. In my opinion, this concept was based on providing equal rights and legal protection to the livelihood of the indigenous community of Australia, which in turn, due to extensive acceptance by the people, transformed into policy in 1961. Though, I firmly believe that the policy had the necessity of further amendment before implementation in society. Considering the report and the data used in this report, I found that, current time, the health status of the indigenous population is mediocre. In fact, a vast disparity or gap in healthcare practice can be evident in the Indigenous Australian population to other non-indigenous populations of the country. For example, I found that pregnant indigenous women used to access less convenient health support and primary care facilities in comparison to other affluent communities of the country. Additionally, the prominent existence of discrimination can also be realised by me regarding the mental and physical well-being of indigenous and non-indigenous people of the country. Thus, as a nurse, I should work for the betterment of Indigenous people with a culturally safe strategy to suppress the gap.
Above all, as a healthcare practitioner, I also reflect on my practice as well as the care support and service delivery process to make the healthcare service convenient for the Indigenous population. As the cultural safety in well-being conveyance needs that a nurse will reflect on their practice, my attempt as a nurse will be to address the areas that disparage the privilege of old indigenous patients in Australia. Considering the biomedical well-being framework, as a nurse, my duty will be to dimmish the factors contributing to racial differences in healthcare practice and make the process inconvenient for aboriginals. I would also develop a possible association with the patients with appropriate communication. As a nurse, my another approach will be to ensure that no one associated with healthcare practice will belittle the Indigenous people when it comes to offering healthcare and supports to them. To minimise the gap and develop the health status among the non-indigenous and non-indigenous population in Australia, I would also try to display cultural capacities and sustainability by developing reliable abilities. It will be based on informational conduct or practice that can improvise and better the secondary consideration of aboriginal patients or individuals with healthcare needs.
In medical practice, the nurse is considered as the bridge between the patient and healthcare professionals. Therefore as a nurse, I will attempt to maintain transparent and viable communication with the patients without being arbitrated based on their ethnicity or whether they come from the aboriginal community or not. And another essential duty in this process will be to transfer the information of patients to the professionals and ensure that whether the indigenous individual can get the best health outcome without being discriminated against racially. In this process or practice, I should also look after the confidentiality practice of information and the use of culturally safe and acceptable behaviour or strategies while dealing with people who come from the indigenous community.
I will also follow the code of conduct to fill the gap and improve the health status of the indigenous population of Australia. During the arrangement of healthcare practice, I ought to abstain from decreasing and belittling the people of the Aboriginal community based on a social and ethical foundation. This can help me to maintain cultural dignity for my patients and provide patient-centric care and support. This practice or initiative can also help me to develop culturally viable healthcare facilities for the indigenous people of Australia, where the men and women and children can get necessary care and support as per the requirements. This attempt can not only help me to improve the health status of this specific community but also strengthen the notion of the Assimilation Policy of 1961.
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