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colonisation government and non- government policies

colonisation government and non- government policies

 British colonisation and subsequent government and non- government policies

History revealed that British colonisation and subsequent government and non- government policies have negatively impacted Indigenous Australians. Australia’s first people ended up losing their identity as Indigenous people, land ownership and right to vote. As a result of psychological stress and changes in their lives made them more prone to the diseases such as heart diseases, liver diseases, diabetes and cancer. Availability of medical facilities to them was also affected. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), (2013), two third of deaths among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians occur due to chronic diseases. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), affecting 32 out of 100 sufferers of chronic illnesses, is one of the key health issues among Indigenous people and is sixth major cause of deaths in Indigenous people. That’s why, this health issue has been chosen to discuss in detail in this essay. Diabetes contributes to 12% of the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Australian government has developed a policy called ‘close the gap’ to bridge this gap by achieving equality in health and life expectancy among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within next 25 years.Government has initiated programs to address these lifestyle issues under close the gap policy. This essay will explain about close the gap policy,diabetes as a health care issue among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and factors responsible for the gap.

To begin with, ‘Close the Gap’ is defined as a largest policy developed by Australian government in response to the Social justice report which was presented in 2005 about the health of Indigenous Australians. It was promised under this policy to remove the disparities among Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians by addressing health related and critical social issues such as poor housing, nutrition, employment and education by 2030 (Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), 2017).

According to Georges et al. (2017), Social justice report presented in 2005 uncovered two issues that are of concern to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. First is achieving improvements in health of Indigenous people and second is implementation of strategies and participation of Indigenous people in those strategies. It was then decided to implement human rights based approach to close the gap. Since 2006, it became duty of every resident of Australia to respect Indigenous people, their beliefs and wishes. Non-governmental and human rights organisations have joined their hands together to provide better health outcomes and life equality for Indigenous Australians. This is known as the Close the Gap Campaign (IAHA, 2017).

As per this campaign, Australian government provides annual report on yearly basis in the parliament on progress towards closing this Gap between health of Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians (IAHA, 2017). This report outlines key structural changes to primary healthcare system arrangements that were effective or ineffective to secure genuine system performance benefits. The data/results are good indicators of whether such policy initiatives have achieved some success or are likely to succeed by 2030. If there is a need to make some more changes then it can become a part of further discussion (Donato & Segal, 2013). In other words, the main aim of this policy is to confirm that every Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child born in Australia has the equal prospect as other Australian children to live a long and happy life by 2030 (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2017).

One health care area in which the gap is predominantly extensive is in the occurrence of Type 2 diabetes. It is presently four times that of non-Indigenous Australians (Jack, 2012). Diabetes is a chronic illness marked by increased levels of glucose in the blood. It is caused either by the inability to produce insulin or by the body not being able to use insulin effectively. Type 2 diabetes is strongly associated with adaptation of westernised living standards and three risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity and poor diet (Brown & Edwards, 2012).

History is considered to be a powerful factor which determines people’s health. Before the white settlement, they were hunter gatherers and were dependant on lean and fresh meat which was collected after hunting. So, they used to go from one place to another in search of food on daily basis in former times. Mobilisation and fresh food kept them in good state and there is no record of diabetes and related diseases at that time (Hampton &Toombs, 2013). With European settlement, their lifestyle was disordered because they denied Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s access to their traditional foods that was vital for the preservation of their health instead high fat and sugar rich substances were brought in by them. In addition to the new diet, they presented to Australia with various transmissible diseases such as tuberculosis and measles to which Indigenous people had no immunity. (Taylor and Guerin, 2014).





Alison, F. 2013, ‘A limited right to equality: Evaluating the effectiveness of racial discrimination law for indigenous Australians through an access to justice lens’, Australian Indigenous Law Review, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 142-148.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: first results, Australia, 2012–13. cat. no. 4727.0.55.001, ABS Canberra viewed 24 August, 2017 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4727.0.55.001main+features802012-13



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