Self-determination is the key to improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, says an editorial published in the 2 July issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needed to participate in “every layer of decision making” to meet their health needs, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara, president of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) wrote.
“We should also be actively involved in the design, delivery and control of health services”, he wrote.
Associate Professor Peter O’Mara observed that as we recognise the strength and spirit of the establishment of the Tent Embassy and the first Aboriginal community controlled health service forty years ago, there is still much to be done to realise the goals of their founders.
He said “Indigenous self-determination was a catchcry at the time, and 40 years later is still being called for.”
In addition, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people needed access to services that were equal in standard to those enjoyed by other Australians, Associate Professor O’Mara said.
He noted that as recently as 2008, 30% of Indigenous people aged 15 years and over reported that they had a problem accessing services.
“This is particularly important, given that the Indigenous population has a greater need for health care than non-Indigenous Australians due to their lower life expectancy, and higher morbidity and mortality rates”, he wrote.
His editorial is one in a series of articles published in the same issue of the MJA that explores key issues in Indigenous health.
Source: The Medical Journal of Australia