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Human Rights, Health, and Indigenous Australians 

Human Rights, Health, and Indigenous Australians
Human Rights, Health, and Indigenous Australians

Ernest Hunter

, Helen Milroy

, Ngiare Brown

, and Tom Calma

Page of

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date: 22 October 2021

Ernest Hunter, Helen Milroy, Ngiare Brown, and Tom Calma address indigenous mental health and rights particularly in Australia, where wealth and advantage fail to overcome escalating social problems and profound disadvantage on all parameters. Remembering the historical and international quest for indigenous rights and the ‘Great Australian Silence’ that until recently erased indigenous Australians from wider Australian consciousness, the authors delineate the struggle for their rights. Reforming and repealing racist or discriminatory legislation without challenging barriers to participation (education, employment, political representation) has reinforced cultural exclusion. Recently, privileging certain rights (‘law and order’ in Northern Territory Indigenous communities) undermined other rights: the rule of law and equity with other Australians. Paternalism and ambivalence produced misguided proposals. Globally, health rights, non-discrimination, equality, and other rights are interdependent. ‘Risk factors’ are inadequate and medical solutions and treatment programmes do not suffice: rather, causal risk processes need analysis and response using holistic approaches to health and human rights frameworks. Indigenous minorities are often invisible: ensuring indigenous agency is imperative to any lasting gains. Racism in society, institutions and sectors promulgating policy–including health–needs identification and action. Bridging the gap between policy and implementation requires setting commitments in achievable time frames, matched with necessary funds and programme support.

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