It is an undeniable fact that the current health system of Australia is full of contrasts. On the one hand, it is advanced and is one of the most sophisticated and highly technological in the whole world, on the other hand, traditional healing practices are still used in some regions of the country.
Basically, it is the result of the regional specificities of Australia and to a significant extent aboriginal population of the country turns to be in the most deprived position. At the same time, it is necessary to point out that the situation has started to gradually improve but an important fact is that it basically progresses in urban areas while rural and remote areas traditionally remain ‘untouched by civilization’, i.e. the contemporary technologies and services are inaccessible for them (Reid 1982).
In such a situation, it is obvious that aboriginal people living in remote areas are practically deprived of a possibility to receive proper medical treatment according to high standards of healthcare system of urban Australia. As a result, many aboriginal people, if not to say the vast majority, has to consult their local specialists who as a rule do not even have a higher education (Reid 1982). Naturally, the treatment of aboriginal people is actually a traditional healing with the use of a variety of natural resources, accessible for local healers, rituals, etc. but its effectiveness is quite doubtful.
Taking into account the importance of traditional healing practices for aboriginal people and the lack of access to the modern healthcare system, what ways can be traditional healing be improved and adopted to the standards of modern healthcare in?
Similarly to views of Reid and many other specialists, Dennis Gray and Sherry Saggers underline the existing inequality in indigenous healthcare. It is a real problem to provide aboriginal people of Australia inhabiting the most remote areas with medical services of high quality. Moreover, often they do not have access to any medical services provided by licensed specialists at all (Reid 1982). But according to Gray and Saggers the problem is much more serious and is aggravated not only by the lack of medical establishments and medical services accessible for people inhabiting remote areas but also by the fact of the dramatic lack of specialists in these territories able to provide an efficient treatment of patients. As a result, aboriginal people face the problems their ancestors faced decades and even hundreds of years ago (Gray and Saggers 2002).
In such a situation, the position of aboriginal people seems to be particularly dramatic in the context of progressing healthcare system in large cities as well as in urban areas at large. Naturally, it is hardly possible to estimate that the current development of healthcare system in urban Australia is perfect (Gray and Saggers 2002) but still it is uncomparably better than in remote areas. Consequently, the problem of inequality between aboriginal people, notably those living in remote areas, and non-aboriginal population of Australia is getting to be extremely important. In fact, it is not only a problem of healthcare but, as Gray and Saggers (2002) state, it is rather a great social problem which may threaten to the normal and harmonic development of Australian society as a solid social unit.
In recent years, due to the development of the healthcare system of Australia and changes started by the government, the position of aboriginal people gradually started to improve. To put it more precisely, currently they get more opportunities to receive higher education, find a better job, and even benefit from the contemporary healthcare system, though the latter is quite arguable and is basically accessible for aboriginal people that moved to urban areas (Mulvaney and Kamminga 1999).
Nonetheless, regardless the scarcity of benefits aboriginal people gained in different fields, including those of healthcare, the non-aboriginal population has generated a number of myths concerning the advantageous position of aboriginal people because of being aboriginal. For instance, they claim that they have more opportunity to receive a higher education, including medical one. In such a situation, it is worthy to note that it is really important to increase the number of medical specialists and in this respect, it is necessary to point out that the government stimulates medical education. In the context of the myths related to the advantageous position of aboriginal people, it is worthy to not that under a recent initiative $10.9 million will enable more students from rural and regional backgrounds, among which there are a lot of aboriginal people, to access undergraduate nursing degrees. One hundred nursing rural scholarships worth $10.000 per year will be provided for rural students (Edwards 2004).
Edwards, H. et al. (2004). “The impact of clinical placement location on nursing students’ competence and preparedness for practice”, Nurse Education Today, 24(4), 248 – 255.
Gray, Dennis and Sherry Saggers. 2002. Indigenous health: the perpetuation of inequality. In John Germov (ed). Second opinion: an introduction to health sociology. 2nd edn. South Melbourne, Oxford University Press: 112-131.
Mulvaney, John and Johan Kamminga. 1999. History of Australia. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Reid, Jan. 1982. Introduction: “the Australian problem” in J. Reid (ed). Body, land and spirit: health and healing in Aboriginal society. St Lucia, University of Queensland Press: ix-xvi.
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