Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Aboriginal Perspectives of Child Health and Wellbeing in an Urban Setting: Developing a Conceptual Framework

Academic journal article Health Sociology Review

Aboriginal Perspectives of Child Health and Wellbeing in an Urban Setting: Developing a Conceptual Framework

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Internationally across cultures, health and wellbeing are multi-dimensional concepts (World Health Organization, 1948, 1986). This is particularly pertinent to Indigenous peoples throughout the world whereby holism is core to understandings of health and wellbeing (Committee on Indigenous Health, 1999; Durie, 1985; Mark & Lyons, 2010; Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). In Australia the most commonly used definition of health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people states that health is 'not just the physical well being of an individual but is the social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of the whole community' (National Aboriginal Health Strategy Working Party, 1989). However, while this definition is widely used within Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health policy discourse, there is not currently a detailed operational framework supporting it and there is considerable fluidity regarding its constituent elements (Lock, 2007). For example Milroy's definition identifies five dimensions of physical health, psychological health, social health and wellbeing, spirituality, and cultural integrity (Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association & Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation UNSW, 2010). Documentation of oral knowledge from interviews and focus groups with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves regarding these issues has been recommended to address this gap (Lock, 2007). An explicit commitment to children within this definition has also been suggested (Harrison & Hunter, 2007).

It is well established that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families experience substantial inequalities in health, educational and social outcomes compared to both their non- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peers and to Indigenous children in other developed nations (Freemantle, Officer, McAullay, & Anderson, 2007). These inequalities are strongly associated with both historical and contemporary racism, colonisation and oppression (Paradies, Harris, & Anderson, 2008). However, the extent to which Australian ATSI child health research has explored a diverse range of dimensions and determinants of health and wellbeing has recently been questioned, with research in this field to date predominantly focusing on physical illnesses (Priest, Mackean, Waters, Davis, & Riggs, 2009). Notwithstanding the critical need to address the significant health inequalities presented by current data, often these data measure outcomes not necessarily based on holistic ATSI concepts of child health and wellbeing and thus can miss many strengths and assets of Indigenous children and families (Priest et al., 2009). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research in urban contexts has been recognised as a priority by Australian scholars and policy-makers (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2002; Scrimgeour & Scrimgeour, 2007) together with greater involvement of ATSI peoples in all stages of research (National Health and Medical Research Council, 2002). Despite common misperceptions that Indigenous health is only a remote area concern, data indicates that Australian ATSI children and young people in urban areas experience similarly poor, and on some indicators worse, health outcomes compared to their remote peers (National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, 2001; Zubrick et al., 2004, 2005). Nonetheless, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child health research in urban areas remains limited (Priest et al., 2009). These issues are particularly pressing, given that over 70% of all ATSI people in Australia now live in urban cities or regional urban areas (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007) and face particular challenges including invisibility, minority status, and views that they have lost their cultural identity (Atkinson, Taylor, & Walter, 2008; Anderson, 2003; Brough et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.