Racism and Australian First Nations Peoples: Creating a 3rd World Population in a 1st World Country?
The health and wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (First Nations; Indigenous) has been profoundly shaped by the circumstances of the past, and most particularly by the events and conditions in Australia since colonisation in the late 18th Century. As such, the striking inequalities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians cannot be understood without an appreciation of the history and persistent impact over time of profound dispossession, exclusion, discrimination, marginalisation and inequality, in various forms. The ongoing effects of colonisation have been particularly harmful to aspects of mental health, the profile of infectious and chronic diseases, and the experience of substance abuse, child maltreatment and incarceration among Aboriginal Australia, and have created a burden that extends across generations of Aboriginal families.
This presentation will compare the contemporary state of Aboriginal health (mental and physical) with that of the broader Australian and international populations. We will discuss the cumulative impact of colonisation, and focus on persistent racism as a pivotal social determinant of Aboriginal health and health inequalities—and include an outline of the available empirical literature on racial discrimination and Indigenous health. Ways to address the insidious impacts of racism and to reduce health disparities will be presented. These will include the importance of political leadership, healing foundations, adequate funding, and the role of Aboriginal communities, activists and researchers.
Professor Fiona Stanley is the Founding Director and Patron of the Telethon Kids Institute. She is Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Western Australia and Director of the Australian National Development Index (ANDI). Trained in maternal and child health, epidemiology and public health, she has spent her career researching the causes of major childhood illnesses. Another field of her research and civic activities have been the development of collaborations between research, policy and practice.
Carrington Shepherd, PhD, is an experienced quantitative researcher who has been associated with the Telethon Institute since 2005. He was awarded his doctorate in 2013, which examined the role of socioeconomic factors on the health and development of Aboriginal populations-this is one of the few studies internationally to explicitly look at the socioeconomic patterning of health in an Indigenous population, and the first to examine these patterns among Aboriginal children using population-representative data.