The have and their attitudes to the

The mortality gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australians is 10.6 years for males and 9.5 years for females as reported by the Australian institute of health and welfare, (AIHW, 2014). Many factors contribute to the difference in morbidity which has lead to this notable gap in mortality rates. In this essay I will discuss some of the determinants including the differing definitions of ‘health’ Indigenous people have and their attitudes to the western health model, the sources of illness for each population and the wide reaching impacts which colonisation had on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Health and illness and the concept of being healthy is argued to be a social construct that mirrors a specific society at a certain point in time, rather than a verifiable truth. (Hornosty & Germov, 2014) The indigenous Australians definition of being ‘healthy’ differs to of a  non-indigenous Australians leading to indigenous Australians to form a negative outlook on the western health facilities as it opposes with their traditional culture. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were twice as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to report their health as fair or poor. While those indigenous living in very remote areas are more likely to rate their health as good and less likely to rate it as fair/ poor than other places in Australia. (“1.17 Perceived health status | Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report”, 2014) This highlights the differing view of being ‘healthy.’ The SES status of a person will influence this as the level of their education and the health information they attain will determine their outlook on their health status. (“1.17 Perceived health status | Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014 Report”, 2014) As stated by Hampton and Toombs the healing for indigenous people isn’t just physical but it includes all the states of well being; emotional and spiritual. Indigenous people’s definition of health tends to follow the Sociological/Holistic definition while the western, non-indigenous definition is more Biomedical (Ganesharajah, 2009). The aboriginal mindset and culture counteracts with the western culture of health, the social determinants of health differ in each population. As indigenous people believe ‘If you feel good inside regardless of your health, it will help you in any medical problems’  (Hampton & Toombs, 2013) The biomedical model is very socially important as it determines many factors such as political policies and the ‘sick role’. (Hornosty & Germov, 2014) If Aboriginal people are excluded from this, it leads them to form a negative attitude and outlook on the western health facilities. This creates an invisible fence between indigenous and non indigenous Australians preventing Indigenous people to be aware of their diseases and get the help they need to be healthy and live longer. An individual’s ability to access adequate food and nutrition determines the sources of illness and disease they’ll attain. Poor nutrition in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is a dominant determinant of the higher levels of morbidity and mortality. (Hampton & Toombs, 2013) Most hospitalisation in Indigenous people is due to chronic diseases, CVD was responsible for 40% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalisations in 2013-14. (“Chapter 4 Determinants of health”, 2015). Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption accounts for 95% of the risk factors for chronic disease. (“Chapter 4 Determinants of health”, 2015) It is clear that Indigenous people are more vulnerable to chronic diseases such as kidney diseases and type 1 & 2 diabetes and many more than non-indigenous. The traditional foods of Aboriginals have been lost by the arrival of the Europeans during colonisation which resulted in the removal of Aboriginals from their traditional lands causing the loss of traditional hunting and food gathering practices and the introduction of welfare payments. The provided income and the purchase of unhealthy ‘ration foods’ decreased the reliance on healthy traditional foods by Aboriginal peoples. (Hampton & Toombs, 2013) Before the European settlement “there was no evidence that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who maintained traditional diets had diabetes or cardiovascular disease” (Hampton & Toombs, 2013) In 2018 the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet requires access to an affordable food supply. The low income and SES status of Indigenous becomes a serious barrier to access healthy foods especially in remote areas. This is where the Australian government needs to create programs aimed at improving the nutritional status of Indigenous Australians to lessen this inequality in health. (Hampton & Toombs, 2013) The Ottawa Charter 1968 is one way the Australian government is addressing this national issue. Its goal was to utilize primary health care in ATSI communities to prevent and promote health also seeking to ensure ATSI communities have housing, water supplies and system that support health equality. (“Health promotion initiatives related to Australia’s health priorities – Close the Gap”, 2015)  Despite this, they have not reached any of its goals yet. This leads to the doubt if the Australian government is even doing enough to reach these goals and to ‘Close the Gap’ between the White and Aboriginal Australian mortality and morbidity rates. In conclusion, it is clear that there is a major health inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Determinants including the differing definitions of ‘health’ Indigenous people have, the lack of education and nutrition in Indigenous society and the wide reaching impacts which colonisation contribute to this gap in mortality and morbidity rates. It is important that the Australian government takes serious, effective action to lessen and end huge gap.