Unhealthy encounters: Legacies and challenges for the health status of settler and Aboriginal communities

Unhealthy encounters: Legacies and challenges for the health status of settler and Aboriginal communities Report

Working Paper Series

  • Author(s): David Wilkinson
  • Published: 2002
  • Publisher: The Hawke Institute, University of South Australia

Abstract: The impact of settler presence and activity on Aboriginal health status has been profound. In common with similar impacts in other settled countries worldwide, the dislocation and disruption of a 'traditional' way of life, coupled with immersion in an inherently unhealthy 'settled' way of life, has meant Aboriginal people now experience very poor health status. This paper examines the extent and magnitude of this differential, its causes and, most importantly, what can be done to address it. In this paper I will outline the differences that exist in the health status of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. While some of the differences that do exist are widely known and recognised, their depth, complexity and magnitude is perhaps less well recognised by many. It seems to me essential that this paper should provide a clear picture of differences in health status now, and over time, and I aim to do that. From there I will present data on use of health services by Aboriginal Australians, showing quite marked differences from use by non- Aboriginal people. I will then go on to make some international comparisons, seeking to determine whether the health status of Indigenous people in places like New Zealand and North America is as bad as it is here. I then want to consider why the health status of Australian Indigenous people is so poor. That is, I want to explore the determinants of health and health status in these communities. From there, I will present some suggestions about what can be done, how we can respond—as a society, as organisations and as individuals—in very practical ways.

Notes: ISSN 1443-9298 ISBN 0 86803 816 4

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Suggested Citation
David Wilkinson, 2002, Unhealthy encounters: Legacies and challenges for the health status of settler and Aboriginal communities, Report, viewed 15 August 2022, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=3184.

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