Dreamtime and awakenings: facing realities of remote area Aboriginal health

Dreamtime and awakenings: facing realities of remote area Aboriginal health Journal Article

Medical Journal of Australia

  • Author(s): Russell L Gruen, Theresa F M Yee
  • Published: 2005
  • Volume: 182

Abstract: It takes humility to walk along the path towards better Aboriginal health. Marni and her two cousins crowded together on our couch watching the Saturday footy. Like many of the Aboriginal children who regularly visited us, they laughed and chatted and found fun in almost everything. We were all still damp after a cooling swim at the nearby waterhole, and were about to tuck into a freshly baked cake from our oven. It seemed there could be nothing better. But 8-year-old Marni was unusually breathless. In fact, she was wheezing and gasping for air. With a stethoscope we could hear the crackles of pulmonary oedema. A few months earlier she had spent several weeks in hospital, and there had been talk that she might need valve replacement surgery. She narrowly avoided it then. Now her cardiac failure had worsened again. Marni has rheumatic heart disease — a disease of poverty and overcrowding. We had never seen a case before we went to work in Yambarr. However, in this small community of about 900 people, at least 25 have rheumatic heart disease. As doctors, we had sought the challenges of working in a remote Aboriginal community. Admittedly, we also found some romantic appeal in the mythical and timeless aspects of Aboriginal culture, which are said to embrace the earth, its creatures and the spirit world in what is often referred to as The Dreamtime. Inevitably, however, we found real people living lives of hardship. More than finding The Dreamtime, we were awakened to some stark realities about health in remote communities.

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Suggested Citation
Russell L Gruen, Theresa F M Yee, 2005, Dreamtime and awakenings: facing realities of remote area Aboriginal health, Volume:182, Journal Article, viewed 05 December 2023, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3863.

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