The Health of the Indigenous People

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Indigenous people were devastated and emotionally depressed because of massacres; their spiritual beliefs were forcefully changed and set in Christian missions. As a result, violence, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse as well as smoking rate increased among the Indigenous people (VACCHO, 2020). The Government policy of Protection (1869) and Assimilation Policy (1951-1962), under the name of protection boards, removed thousands of Indigenous children from their families and put them in white families or missions. When they turned 18, they were forced to disseminate into the white society and these children are known as the Stolen Generations. The physical, emotional and sexual abuse left a lifetime impact on the health and well-being of the Stolen Generations (VACCHO, 2020). The forceful removal of children from their family weakened their indigenous identity and Indigenous cultural traditions.

Their education level is limited; most do not complete high school, because of these they were less likely to get employed. They experienced an unstable living condition leading to an unstable relationship with their partners (Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997). The gap on Indigenous health is directly related to their past physical and psychological suffering. Ongoing racism and discrimination, intergenerational trauma, poor diet, lack of exercise, low education, low employment, low income, poor housing affordability, poor sanitation and drainage system have negatively contributed to their health. This in turn led to poor life expectancy; 10.6 years less for Indigenous males born between 2015 and 2017 and about 8 to 9 years less for females than non-Indigenous population (Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, 2020).

To close the health gap, it is important to understand what health means to Aboriginal people. Health is not merely a physical illness; it is cultural, spiritual and emotional well-being of an individual, their families and the whole community. Therefore, various solutions have been implemented by the Aboriginal community to address the health needs of Aboriginal people in a holistic and culturally safe manner. These include the establishment of Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organization (VACCHO) and community healing centres run by the Healing Foundation. VACCHO is a member of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization (NACCHO) and which represents 100 per cent Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organizations. To address the health needs of each local Aboriginal community group operates at a community level. Currently there are 25 locally owned Aboriginal Community controlled Health Organizations across Victoria (VACCHO, 2020).

Community healing centres also provide culturally safe and health services to the Aboriginal community, particularly to those members of the Stolen Generations and their families, aimed to help their mental health, emotional wellbeing and spiritually and to support them through their healing process. In 2017/2018 the Healing Foundation supported 170 Stolen Generations members who took part in collective healing projects (Healing Foundation, 2018). Aboriginal-led health organizations such as the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organization and healing centres run by the Healing Foundation are vital to close to the health inequality among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

Culturally safe and health care services delivered by Aborigines to Aborigines play a significant role on decolonization of the mainstream health by allowing self-determination, as these organizations are run and managed by Aborigines, Advocates for Aborigines health equality by providing access to health services, capacity building through health promotion and education and creating employment to the community. As these organization run and work for the Aboriginal community which gives confidence and builds trust in the health services, so this increases access to the health services and creates strong connections among the Aboriginal community (VACCHO, 2020). The Healing Foundation supports group healing projects which were planned to meet the specific healing needs to the Stolen Generations members by giving them access to healing groups, connecting them with other survivors. Sharing their stories help many Stolen Generations members and it also plays a significant role for intergenerational healing (Healing Foundation, 2018).

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The health of the indigenous people. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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