National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is the government policy that has been developed to eliminate the gap in the well-being of the indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. The Australian aboriginal society has been facing many issues, and one of them is an access to the healthcare. In order to lead and wholesome and healthy life, the minority should have the ability to get all the social privileges as the rest of the society. Therefore, this review observes the information on the issues and measures for its salvation correlating it with the impact of gender, race and class on social inequality. Further, it discusses the efficiency of the methods and the contribution of policy frameworks and how human rights affect future ethics and practices.
Overview of the Goals and Measures
The policy has been developed in order to help the Australian indigenous communities to get equal access to medical services and take proper care of the indigenous population. The Australian Government cooperated with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community organizations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to determine the main goals and problems that need to be solved in the current policy framework (Australia. Department of Health, 2013). According to Australia. Department of Health,” in 2008, Australian Governments committed to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on an essential task- to achieve equality in health status and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians by the year 2031″ (2013). The main issue that the policy starts with is admitting the existence of social inequality and the poor conditions for a decent life and well-being of aboriginals. To improve the situation with the medical care, the policy, first of all, starts from prioritizing the population’s mental state. Moral well-being and the level of life depend on the overall health state and the possibility of drug and alcohol addiction.
The policy touches all the parts of the population, including children, older people and people with disabilities (Australia. Department of Health, 2013). The policy focuses on the research and study of indigenous children’s health because they can be affected more than others in the future perspective if their well-being is neglected. The focus is on reducing the amount of abuse, violence and self-harm due to dysfunctional living conditions. Mainly the Government aims to provide easier access to medical services for people with disabilities as they struggle more than the regular humans. The healthy plan integrates with other initiatives to achieve better effectiveness of the policy. There is a program such as National Strategic Framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes. To detect the progress of the policy, the Government Abby lays reports on the accomplishments and new challenges that they face during the implementation of the program.
Concepts of Social Inequality
Social inequality results from particular cultural and historical events that resulted in discrimination and social injustice. Although society seems to be more progressive than it used to be decades and centuries ago, there are still issues that influence the well-being of the minorities. In different studies and social activities, social inequality became the center of understanding the functionality of the population. According to Maluf, it is observed “through the three dimensions – class, race, and gender – in the first moment, and more contemporaneously with the observation of other markers of difference, such as sexuality, ethnicity, generations, and disability” (2018). For example, the root of the issues in the familiar behavioral patterns contribute to racism (Loury, 2019). The learned behavioral models impact society’s perception the social inequality.
Gender plays a significant role in contributing to social inequalities, for women still face discrimination daily in every field of their lives. For instance, Latina and black, until nowadays, experience the consequences of social inequalities by lower-income, more prejudice at work and poverty (Michener et al., 2020). Pilcher, in her work, accurately summarized the discussion by saying that “both sex and gender are theorized as socially constructed categorizations, identifications, and practices—routinely accomplished in everyday, ongoing social interactions and within which bodies are central” (2017). Therefore, gender is one of the central factors that influence people, particularly women and influence the discrimination.
Social class is another reason for social discrimination, and it is not easily eliminated as well. Comparing it to sexism and racism, it can be said that the unequal amount of goods and wealthiness is the cause of the issue, not the reason. (Scambler, 2019). When the fight against sexism and racism can somewhat change people’s minds, if the wealthy and middle-class will be respectful or give their goods to someone else, it will not influence the economy. Moreover, money and wealth provide people with power, which is another factor that contributes to social injustice. Along with valuable social connections, education, positive personal traits, money create a power dynamic in society that endows some people with privilege, and others leave marginalized. (Power and Inequality, 2020). Power is an instrument that can be used for good reasons as well as for personal needs and social dominance.
A Critical Review of the Efficiency of the Policy
The situation with healthcare for the indigenous population seems to improve and shows some progress in the accessibility of medical help. Comparing to the non-ingenious population, the Government has provided more health expenditures to the indigenous people. It has supported 78% of all the indigenous Australians and 70% of non-indigenous along with the non-governmental and private sector (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021). Indigenous Australians still face difficulties accessing health services or benefiting from the healthcare opportunities due to the remote location and financial issues. Those are two main reasons for the poorer results in receiving medical health among the indigenous population. It outcomes in the statistics of Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that shows that “death rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more than twice those of non-Indigenous Australians,” as the (2020). One of the methods that increase the awareness of the aboriginals’ problem is to implement more indigenous people to work in medicine.
The policy might have chosen the right approach by striving to change the system at first since it will inevitably influence the outcomes. According to the Health and Welfare, “in the 2016 Census, more than 11,000 Indigenous Australians were employed in health-related occupations” (2020). This is the positive result that impacts the further changes in the system. In addition, between 2009 and 2018, the number of fully vaccinated children under the age of five has increased from the 77% to 97%, which influenced the reduction of illnesses and deaths (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020). Therefore, the Government is taking measures to improve the conditions for the infected populations. However, some issues remain unresolved, such as remote medical institutions and low accessibility.
Contribution of Systems and Policy Frameworks
The policymakers seem to start to understand the needs of the marginalized parts of the population and contribute to improving their needs. As Finlay and Kidd claim: “The growing emphasis on evidence-based policy means that policymakers increasingly draw on research and western knowledge as their sources of truth and authority” (2021). For the current moment, the Government has made the most significant impact on the indigenous Australians with the help of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan.
However, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan is not the only public policy that contributes to the problem’s solution. For example, according to Parter et al., there are such policies as “the legislation, appropriation bills, and regulations executed by the executive Government such as the Stronger Futures 2012 Act that aims to strengthen the lives of Northern Territory Aboriginal people, families, and communities. (2020). Another program is the Commonwealth Government’s Indigenous Health Advancement Program that works to prevent chronic diseases like cardiovascular and diabetes (Parter et al., 2020). Those examples illustrate the actions that Government takes to improve the overall health of indigenous Australians.
Role of Human Rights in the Contemporary and Future Society
Contemporary society often demonstrates the importance of considering and implementing human rights in everyday life and governmental policies. The foundation of society’s well-being low rates of social inequalities is based on developing human rights in particular countries among particular populations. The problem of healthcare that faces indigenous Australians also results from the lack of human rights, but currently, there it seems to be progress since the Government tries to compensate and balance it. In addition to the point, Quintavalla and Heine claim that “all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated” (2019). The study and implementation of human rights to the current practices will influence the future outcomes in the best way. Following the values of people’s lives, well-being, equalities and respect might change the core of the system in which society exists nowadays. If all the social institutions organize the process of education, healthcare and development considering the equality and respect for minorities by default, many current social problems can be solved.
Overall, the Australian Government’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan has shown some positive results throughout the policy’s existence. The policymakers started changes from the system’s core and successfully managed to implement some of their strategies. Significant contributions to the eliminating of the problem have also made non-government policies and initiatives. Therefore, indigenous people got more possibilities for the proper medical care and lower death rates and chronic diseases. However, they still seem to struggle with several issues, such as the financial affordability of healthcare and medical institutions located far from the settlements. The study showed the impact of components on social inequalities and determined the interconnection between Australian indigenous people and their oppression. The race and class, coupled with power, create a gap between privileged parts of the society and marginalized ones. Thereby, human rights play a crucial role in improving living conditions and equal rights among all the layers of the population. Following them and implementing them into the core of the system will provide the future with less discrimination and more ethical practices.
Australia. Department of Health. (2013). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan: 2013-2023. Department of Health.
Parter, C., Wilson, S., Gwynn, J., Skinner, J., & Hartz, D. (2020). A research protocol-Indigenous culture saves lives-Australian Indigenous cultural views and knowledge in health policy: A case study-the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023. Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing, 5(1), 28-37.
Finlay, E., & Kidd, J. (2021). 16 Unpacking the ‘truth about the health gap: decolonizing methodologies, cultural archives and the national aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health plan 2013–2023. BMJ Open, 11(Suppl 1), A20-A20.
Michener, J., & Brower, M. T. (2020). What’s Policy Got to Do with It? Race, Gender & Economic Inequality in the United States. Daedalus, 149(1), 100-118.
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Loury, G. (2019). Why Does Racial Inequality Persist? Culture, Causation, and Responsibility. The Manhattan Institute.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2020). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2020 summary report.
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Quintavalla, A., & Heine, K. (2019). Priorities and human rights. The International Journal of Human Rights, 23(4), 679-697.