Indigenous Australians refer to a group of people of Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal descent who lived in Australia before the colonial period. Indigenous Australians, like most people, had their own culture of togetherness among family or community members. The land was also valued as a factor of development by the community, as it sustains all human life. However, with the arrival of British colonizers, many people were forced from their homes, which harmed their culture and, more importantly, their health. This paper addresses Indigenous Australians’ health care and why healthcare professionals must become culturally knowledgeable to meet Aboriginals’ needs. Part 1 A photo showing Indigenous Australian children playing in a river near a forested land.
This photo shows a group of aboriginal children playing in a river found near a forest. The children appear happy and enjoy jumping into the water without fearing any form of hostility from other people. The dominant characteristic of the Aboriginal and Torrent Islander people portrayed in the image is a close social community relationship. It is possible to deduce that the children come from different families and have just met by the riverside to spend part of their day. The social nature of the indigenous people allows close interactions without enmity among community members. Besides, the Aboriginal people have a strong spiritual connection with their land. Hence, they prefer preserving the land as well as allow other people use it for recreation purposes.
This picture also reflects a comfortable lifestyle led by the Aboriginals before the arrival of European colonizers. All people had stable physical and emotional health as depicted in the photo. Unfortunately, the colonizers introduced their own lifestyle in the region, which affected the indigenous culture. The Europeans introduced some negative socio-historical events such as the Stolen Generations and dispossession of land. As an effect, the health status of many indigenous Australians deteriorated, and people lost their trust in the western biomedical health care.
The suffering caused by injustices committed against the aboriginal Australians makes it difficult for them to believe in the modern medicine (Hunt et al., 2015). The push to have Aboriginals accepts the contemporary medicine or healthy living also backfires due to the approach used by the healthcare providers. Many not understand the culture of aboriginals and how they value community support during an illness. According to Hunt et al. (2015), it has become a challenge for the Aboriginals to communicate with nurses. For instance, both adults and children do not maintain an eye contact with nurses. As a solution, healthcare providers should become culturally competent to help the aboriginals lead a healthy life (Freeman et al., 2014). For instance, they should learn about the language and acquire open communication skills. They have to understand signs and body movements made by the aboriginals when they communicate. Besides, they have to respect their culture. They have to realize that aboriginals value togetherness, hence they are likely to make most of the healthcare decisions or treatment plans as a group. More importantly, nurses have to express affection and compassion towards the group that feels mistreated by the colonizers. This approach should include a detailed explanation of the modern medicine and its advantages compared to the traditional treatment approach. By expressing respect, it would be possible for nurses to convince the aboriginals to accept the modern medicine which and have improved healthcare (Freeman et al., 2014).
From this topic, I have learnt that British colonialists contributed significantly to the current weak health care of the Indigenous Australians. The aboriginals had great faith in their land and relied on it for all their needs include health. Thus, it is still difficult to convince them to accept biomedicine, since they always relate it to the mistreatment from the colonial settlers.
I have acquired useful concepts on the role of cultural competence and awareness in caring for the aboriginals or any other minority and marginalized groups. Nurses have to become culturally competent. They have to accept, respect and appreciate cultural beliefs and practices of other communities (Almutairi et al., 2015). As seen in the picture, the children appear happy together and can talk to each other freely. However, the opposite occurs when both adults and children converse with healthcare providers. They feel agitated, shy or refuse to speak at all. Thus, studying this topic has revealed that it is the role of nurses to understand the existing cultural beliefs and strategize on how to approach the unfriendly patients. As much as it could be difficult to understand the language spoken, nurses must try to identify signs or body movements used when the patients express themselves. Besides, they should identify an interpreter to explain the meaning of some of the words used to communicate symptoms (Montenery et al., 2013).
Lastly, I think that respect is the most excellent asset healthcare providers should possess to address the healthcare needs of indigenous community effectively. With respect, it is easy to appreciate their cultural values and beliefs, which makes it possible to allow the community adopt their preferred healthcare practices (Montenery et al., 2013). Nurses should understand that aboriginals drive great satisfaction from their culture or spiritual beliefs, which directly relates to healthcare outcomes (Almutairi et al., 2015). Hence, it is advisable to understand the community’s perceptions of medications or specific form of treatment before applying it. Through respect, healthcare professionals will demonstrate that they care for the needs of aboriginals and have an interest in promoting their health.
Indigenous Australians is among the groups whose lifestyle and British colonialists destroyed their culture. Through togetherness and spirituality, the group believed that land provided all their needs that support their health. Due to the mistrust, it has become difficult for the community to access quality health services, a factor that leads to a poor health state, unlike other non-indigenous groups. The only solution for improving the health of this community is for healthcare providers to become culturally competent. They should respect the aboriginal’s culture, learn their communication skills and allow them to conduct any practices that can promote their health.
Almutairi, A. F., McCarthy, A., & Gardner, G. E. (2015). Understanding cultural competence in a multicultural nursing workforce: registered nurses’ experience in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 26(1), 16-23.
Freeman, T., Edwards, T., Baum, F., Lawless, A., Jolley, G., Javanparast, S., & Francis, T. (2014). Cultural respect strategies in Australian Aboriginal primary health care services: beyond education and training of practitioners. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 38(4), 355-361.
Hunt, L., Ramjan, L., McDonald, G., Koch, J., Baird, D., & Salamonson, Y. (2015). Nursing students’ perspectives of the health and healthcare issues of Australian Indigenous people. Nurse education today, 35(3), 461-467.
Montenery, S. M., Jones, A. D., Perry, N., Ross, D., & Zoucha, R. (2013). Cultural competence in nursing faculty: A journey, not a destination. Journal of Professional Nursing, 29(6), e51-e57.