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Postgrad Med J 81:618-624 doi:10.1136/pgmj.2004.031377
  • Ethnicity

Toward health and wellbeing for indigenous Australians

  1. S M van Holst Pellekaan1,
  2. L Clague2
  1. 1School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Department of Family and Community Nursing, Faculty of Nursing M02, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S M van Holst Pellekaan
 School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia; s.vanholstunsw.edu.au
  • Received 8 December 2004
  • Accepted 30 March 2005

Abstract

The health of indigenous Australians remains well below that of non-indigenous Australians and indigenous peoples in Canada and New Zealand. Although recent planning has initiated many outstanding, culturally appropriate programmes with indigenous involvement, health statistics only reflect marginal improvement in recent years. It is crucial that positive programmes are sustained with appropriately directed funding. An approach that includes respect for the emotional and spiritual wellbeing of Australia’s indigenous peoples will assist to redress some of the disadvantage caused by dispossession of country, language, and identity. It is clear from many programmes that are in place, that primary health care delivered locally through community controlled organisations, will minimise the impact of serious illnesses that currently threaten whole families and communities. Westernised health care systems are slow to learn from indigenous peoples in Australia and other places, that maintenance of wellness, not management of illness should be the goal.

Footnotes

  • Funding: none.

  • Competing interests: none.