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Aboriginal public health and education : has it made a difference in practice?

posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Bronwyn Fredericks, R Edwards
Over the years, public health in relation to Australian Aboriginal people has involved many individuals and groups including health professionals, governments, politicians, special interest groups and corporate organisations. Since colonisation commenced until the1980s, public health relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was not necessarily in the best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but rather in the interests of the non-Aboriginal population. The attention that was paid focussed more generally around the subject of reproduction and issues of prostitution, exploitation, abuse and venereal diseases (Kidd, 1997). Since the late 1980s there has been a shift in the broader public health agenda (see Baum, 1998) along with public health in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (NHMRC, 2003). This has been coupled with increasing calls to develop appropriate tertiary curriculum and to educate, train, and employ more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal people in public health (Anderson et al., 2004; Genat, 2007; PHERP, 2008a, 2008b). Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been engaged in public health in ways in which they are in a position to influence the public health agenda (Anderson 2004; 2008; Anderson et al., 2004; NATSIHC, 2003). There have been numerous projects, programs and strategies that have sought to develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public Health workforce (AHMAC, 2002; Oldenburg et al., 2005; SCATSIH, 2002). In recent times the Aboriginal community controlled health sector has joined forces with other peak bodies and governments to find solutions and strategies to improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (NACCHO & Oxfam, 2007). This case study chapter will not address these broader activities. Instead it will explore the activities and roles of staff within the Public Health and Research Unit (PHRU) at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO). It will focus on their experiences with education institutions, their work in public health and their thoughts on gaps and where improvements can be made in public health, research and education. What will be demonstrated is the diversity of education qualifications and experience. What will also be reflected is how people work within public health on a daily basis to enact change for equity in health and contribute to the improvement of future health outcomes of the Victorian Aboriginal community.


Parent Title

Building public health workforce capacity in Australia : case studies of academic public health education and workforce preparation.

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Australian Network of Public Health Institutions

Place of Publication

Canberra, ACT

Open Access

  • No

Cultural Warning

This research output may contain the names and images of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people now deceased. We apologize for any distress that may occur.

Era Eligible

  • Yes

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