Professionals Working In Aboriginal Health Essay


Discuss About The Professionals Working In Aboriginal Health?



The health disadvantages experienced by indigenous Australians have a historical origin. Before 1788, indigenous Australians enjoyed better health than most individuals living in Europe (HealthInfoNet, 2017). This situation changed after the onset of colonisation, and now indigenous communities have higher chances of being diagnosed with the diseases than non-indigenous people. Currently, health disadvantages among the indigenous people are advanced by modern socio economic factors, incarnated in social determinants of health (Knibbs & Sly, 2014). Factors such as unemployment, lack of land, poor access to care services and incarceration result in poor health of the indigenous Australians. Racism is a leading cause of mental illnesses and suicide among the indigenous Australians (Priest, Paradies, Gunthorpe, Cairney, & Sayers, 2011). The selected topic for this assignment is the impact of racism on indigenous Australians relating to suicide and mental illness.

Racism is a primary factor in the occurrence of mental illnesses and suicide among the indigenous Australians. When indigenous people are discriminated and abused, they tend to develop psychological distress and mental illnesses that can later cause an individual to commit suicide. This assignment will analyse four recent media items from a different source. The selected news articles have themes of racism, mental health and suicide relating to indigenous Australians.

Media Item One

Thorpe. N., (2017). Government at all levels failing Australia’s first peoples,’ indigenous leaders. Retrieved from

According to Thorpe (2017), the governments continually disappointed the indigenous people despite bipartisan support. Specifically, the government has failed to close the gap in healthcare inequality between Aboriginal Australians and non-indigenous people. This news article highlights the link between suicide and racism. Based on the article, there is an elaborate link between racism and suicide. This link reveals that there is significant evidence on the harmful impacts of racism. Aboriginal Australians, who experience racism, have higher chances of experiencing anxiety and depression, which consequently increases the risk of suicide. This argument insinuates that racisms increase the risk of adverse mental health effects.

Based on this news article, the indigenous people are twice more likely to commit suicide in comparison to non-Aboriginal Australians. The level of psychological distress is also higher among the Aboriginal people than the non-indigenous community. As such, the high incidence of psychological distress increases the risk of suicide by up to three times higher in Aboriginal Australians than non-indigenous people.

Thorpe (2017), attempts to offer a remedy to the high prevalence of suicide linked to racism. The author notes that solid government support can help to address the high suicide rates. Besides, support from the non-indigenous community is indispensable in addressing the high rates of suicide among the indigenous people. The support should be designed and offered at the community level for better outcomes.

How fits into unit overall and topics discussed or covered

This news article relates to the cover topics. Specifically, it relates to module 2 topic 1 and module 1 topic 3. Module 2 topic 1 outlines relevant and ongoing issues regarding initiatives put in place by the Australian governments to close the gap for indigenous people health and wellbeing. The news article notes that although there are approaches to promote the health and well-being of the indigenous people, these approaches are not fully effective. Some of the main approaches by the Australian government for the indigenous people are Mothers and Babies Services, Australian Nurse-Family Partnership Program, and Indigenous Australian’s Health Programme (Australian Department of Health, 2017). These programs are tailored to satisfy the needs of the indigenous people and bridge the health gap that is caused by social inequalities. On the other hand, module 1 topic 3 argues that identity is an important aspect of the indigenous culture. As such, the government programs should be designed to promote the identity of the aboriginal people.

How media item contributes to the topics discussion or debate

The media item seems to contribute both positively and negatively to the topic discussion. It attempts to show that the government’s approaches are either ineffective or inadequate in addressing the effects of racism in the community. The news article propagates the negative portrayal by explaining the rate of suicides among the indigenous Australians compared to the non-indigenous Australians. According to Islam and Fitzgerald (2016), media reporting of topics can play a vital role in informing public opinion as well as government policies. Additionally, the media can lead to enhancing Aboriginal health by increasing knowledge and evidence-based balanced broadcasting. This media item from SBS can cause the government to enhance its services and develop more services to satisfy the unmet needs of the Aboriginal Australians.

Personal reflection on the issue

After analysing this media item, I feel that racism is still deep-rooted in the Australian community. This article shows that indigenous Australians are detached from their social, spiritual and cultural identity which increases the risk of suicide. I also think that the government should be more sensitive to the needs of the indigenous people. The link between social factors and health of the indigenous population in Australia is well documented (Shepherd, Li & Zubrick, 2012). In this case, I think the Australian governments should focus on eliminating social inequality in the community, which will eventually improve the health of the indigenous Australians.

Media Item Two

NIT. (2017). Mental illness plagues young indigenous people: report. Retrieved from

Young indigenous Australians have higher chances of experiencing severe mental illnesses compared to younger people from non-indigenous communities. The National Indigenous Times refers to a recent report to explain the link between mental illnesses, suicide and racism. Based on the report, three in ten, young indigenous Australians are likely to experience serious mental illnesses. The statistics insinuate that approximately 33% of young Aboriginal Australians might experience cognitive problems. Most of the participants in the study were aged between 15 and 19 years. However, some of the participants were aged 10 years (NIT, 2017).

The high prevalence of suicide, in this case, was linked to racism, which causes trauma. According to National Indigenous Times, indigenous Australians experience disengagement from employment and education. These kinds of a discrimination result in low levels of emotional and social well-being of young indigenous people. Such factors can lead to substance abuse and eventually suicide.

According to this news article, dealing with the decreasing levels of emotional and social wellbeing needs a holistic approach. There should be holistic services as well as policies which empower the indigenous population to buttress recovery and resilience. Indigenous Australian leaders, elders and communities should strive to drive the policies and services that support recovery and resilience. Some methods that have been proposed to deal with the mental illnesses are community agencies, telephone hotlines and magazines. Young indigenous Australians can also turn to their friends and family members for help. In conclusion, this news article emphasises the importance of the Internet and online technologies in delivering mental health services to young people (NIT, 2017). The online services can include information on prevention, diagnosis and treatment programs.

How fits into unit overall and topic discussed or covered

The media item relates to the module 2 topic 1 and module 3 topic 2. These topics explore the impact of colonisation and the core elements of the indigenous culture respectively. Module 2 topic 1 suggests that colonisation is a calamitous influential factor in health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Australians. Colonisation is a driver of indigenous health because it relates to historical trauma. Conversely, racism is an overlapping and intersecting phenomenon (Paradies, 2016). The effects of colonisation on indigenous Australians are thus emphasised by racism. The impacts of both colonisation and racism increase the rates of suicide. Module 3 topic 2 notes that there is a strong connection between physical and spiritual elements. The indigenous people feel a strong connection to the land as a source of life. Hence, social disadvantages such as unemployment are likely to increase the prevalence of psychological stress and mental illnesses among the indigenous Australians.

How media item contributes to the topics discussion or debate

This news article contributes broadly to the debate because it proposes strategies for dealing with the high prevalence of mental illnesses in young Australians. The main contribution of the media article is proposing the adoption of a holistic approach to addressing the issues of indigenous people. The article seems to support some of the programs that have been established in Australia. For instance, the ACCHS are managed and operated by the Indigenous Board has chosen from local communities to offer healthcare services for Aboriginal people within a holistic health approach that enhances health, managed illnesses, and enhances community development (Durey, & Thompson, 2012). These services also offer educational resources for health providers caring for indigenous communities. Furthermore, a holistic approach characterises illness aetiology in a wider socio-economic and historical context. It integrates linguistically and culturally suitable health promotion, education and prevention of diseases and offers explanations of interventions.

Personal reflection on the issue

I feel that this article makes great sense in addressing the mental health issues for indigenous Australian. The article approaches mental illness from a social determinant approach rather than just a disease. From this perspective, the article proposes a holistic approach. I think this news article advances the idea that for indigenous Australians, health is spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical (Baba, Brolan & Hill, 2014). To understand the mental illness of the indigenous Australians several themes should be examined including culture, spirituality, community kinships, social factors, economic factors and historical factors (Ypinazar, Margolis, Haswell-Elkins & Tsey, 2007). When reflecting on the media item, I think it offers a potential solution to the issue of mental illness for indigenous Australians.

Media Item Three

WAtoday. (2017). Abuse, neglect: Perth inquest hears tragic tale of indigenous youth suicides. Retrieved from

This news article delineates the inquest into the suicide of young indigenous people. The article focuses on the story of a 10-year old girl who committed suicide three years after her sister took her own life. Based on this news article, there have been about 13 cases of suicides involving young indigenous people between 2012 and 2016. The increasing incidence of suicide among young indigenous Australians is a worrying trend because there are no clear reasons given. During the inquest of the suicide of the 10-year-old girl from Looma community, explanations were not given for her decision (WAtoday, 2017).

However, it was reported that the girl had suicidal intentions. Besides, she was exposed to alcohol abuse as well as domestic violence and had not gotten mental health services. Out of 40 inquiries, approximately 700 recommendations had been put forth to address the issue of suicide among the indigenous communities. According to Mr Urquhart, a radical approach is required to address this issue (WAtoday, 2017). He worries that some of these recommendations are not appropriate while others are yet to be implemented.

According to Patricia Dudgeon, who gave her opinion during the inquest, the ongoing racism is an important factor that affects indigenous wellbeing. Other factors that are linked to racism are forced removal, poverty and paternalism. Professor Dudgeon argued that there were no simple solutions to the problem of suicide among the indigenous people. She thinks that when people are treated as second-rate citizens, problems continue from one generation to the next.

How fits into unit overall and topic discussed or covered

This media item relates to several topics studied in this unit. For instance, based on module 2 topic 1, the impacts of colonisation are tremendous on the indigenous Australians. Young people are now experiencing the effects of colonisation elevated by racism. Evidently, this news article indicates that the wellbeing and health of the young indigenous Australians are greatly affected. This media item is supported by several other news articles and scholarly articles. Fogarty (2016) argues that the incidence of suicide among youth Aboriginal men in Australia is the highest in the world. Queensland and Tasmania have been found to have an increasing rate. Similarly, Chalmers and colleagues assert that suicide is higher among the indigenous Australian adolescents than in non-aboriginal adolescents (Chalmers et al., 2014). Based on this trend, there is a need to design culturally suitable mental illness interventions for the young Australians. In this case, the media item relates to module 3 topic 1. The topic relates to the designing of culturally appropriate services.

How media item contributes to the topics discussion or debate

This media item brings new insights into the debate. The article expounds more on the causes of suicide among the young Australians. Based on the analysis of this media item, suicide among the indigenous Australians is a manifestation of the mental illness. Most of the children who commit suicide exhibit symptoms of mental illness at a particular point in their life. Failure to address mental illness is what results in suicide. Apart from mental health, other factors are attributable to suicide. These include racism, alienation, stresses of disadvantage and exclusion (Department of Health, 2013). Additionally, the media item proposes that the rate of suicide in remote areas is high. The young Australians who have been reported to commit suicide in this news article live in rural areas. Recent evidence also suggests that suicide is high in remote areas (Soole, K?lves, & De Leo, 2014). The evidence also links suicide among the young Australians to substance abuse mainly alcohol.

Personal reflection on the issue

When reflecting on this media item, I think early detection and management of symptoms of mental health among the Aboriginal people is needed. The detection of risk factors such as substance abuse can also help to tackle the incidence of suicide among the indigenous population. Ideally, the study of patterns of illness can assist to prevent mental health issues by preventing their cause or their occurrence. It is also notable that preventing illness is simpler if the problem can be reliably detected or its cause (Costello, 2016).

Media Item Four

Haggan, M. (2017). Closing the gap is vital. Retrieved from

Haggan (2017) acknowledges that the governments are devoted to improving the status of the indigenous communities. However, the author argues that renewed efforts are required to bridge the gap between the indigenous Australians and the other communities. The renewed approach should most specifically integrate the social determinants of health. This approach would help to address the long-standing inequalities in the Australian communities. The territory, state and federal governments should collaborate with the aboriginal health leaders to work towards establishing equality in the society.

Several recommendations have been offered in this news article on how to bridge the gap. An inquiry into racism is required. There should be a focus on the incidence of racism in health care environment that leads to inequality in access to healthcare. The Australian government should provide the required resources to assist in the implementation of this suggestion. In addition, there should be strategies on suicide prevention. Most of the cases of suicide in the aboriginal communities occur before the age of 35 years, which means that many young people are the risk of this problem (Haggan, 2017). Conclusively, the National Close the Gap Day is an initiative designed to improve the lives of indigenous Australians in the community.

How fits into unit overall and topic discussed or covered

This news article relates to module 4 topic 2 that emphasises on applying a strengths approach as well as partnership model to close the gap. The article primarily talks about governments’ approach to closing the health inequality gap between the Aboriginal Australians and non-indigenous Australians. Various approaches have been put place but federal, state and territory governments to bridge the gap between the indigenous Australians and non-indigenous people. Training a substantial number of indigenous registered nurses is among the ways of closing the gap (West, Usher, & Foster, 2010). Indigenous nurses have a unique set of skills that can be appropriate to improve the outcomes of the indigenous population. The Aboriginal doctors associations also assist to close the health gap between indigenous population and non-Aboriginal communities (O’Mara, 2009). This media item further relates to module 2 topic 2 which focuses on approaches of the Australian government in closing the gap for indigenous Australians.

How media item contributes to the topic discussion or debate

This news article advances the debate by outlining what the government has put in place to address the issue of racism and its effects on mental health as well as suicide. The collaboration between the government, indigenous leaders and healthcare provides an effective strategy. An analysis of the available literature reveals that the government is adopting ambitious policies approaches meant to promote health care access for indigenous Australians (Peiris, et al., 2012). This news article delivers a positive portrayal of the government in relation to the promotion of indigenous health.

Personal reflection on the issue

I think that the government can use the currently available data to design culturally suitable health programs for the indigenous Australians. There is a substantial rise in the quantity of indigenous health data (Reading & Wien, 2009). Apart from using the available data, the government should also include aboriginal leaders and healthcare professionals in developing pertinent programs. In rural areas, healthcare professionals experience a challenge of working with many indigenous people (Wilson, Magarey, Jones, O’Donnell & Kelly, 2015). As a result, the government should consider employing more indigenous healthcare providers.


Conclusively, racism has had and continues to have immense, adverse and inordinate effects on the wellbeing, specifically mental health, of the indigenous Australians. Racism has also been linked to the high prevalence of suicide among the indigenous people. As discussed in this assignment, the media plays an important role in creating awareness of the social and health inequalities facing Aboriginal Australians. The media also shapes the public awareness about the programs, initiatives and approaches that have been put in place to address the health inequalities in Australia. The media also recommends some strategies that can be adopted to promote the health of indigenous people.


Australian Department of Health. (2017). Indigenous Australians’ Health Programme. Retrieved from

Baba, J. T., Brolan, C. E., & Hill, P. S. (2014). Aboriginal medical services cure more than illness: a qualitative study of how Indigenous services address the health impacts of discrimination in Brisbane communities. International journal for equity in health, 13(1), 56. doi: 10.1186/1475-9276-13-56

Chalmers, K. J., Bond, K. S., Jorm, A. F., Kelly, C. M., Kitchener, B. A., & Williams-Tchen, A. J. (2014). Providing culturally appropriate mental health first aid to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander adolescent: development of expert consensus guidelines. International journal of mental health systems, 8(1), 6. doi: 10.1186/1752-4458-8-6

Costello, E. J. (2016). Early detection and prevention of mental health problems: Developmental epidemiology and systems of support. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(6), 710-717. Retrieved from

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