How to ‘close the gap’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
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Reflective essay: How to ‘close the gap’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islander Australians continue to experience significantly poor health outcomes compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts. Though there are numerous factors that are associated with the health disparities between the indigenous and Non-Indigenous people in Australia, the policies and practices of the British colonial system has and continues to impact the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Colonization entails a set of policies and practices that are exerted by a political power towards another inferior territory. The British colonial system in Australia can be best contemplated in the lens of Indigenous people being forcefully disconnected from culture, land, and more importantly, the injustices such as exploitation, displacement, dispossession and violence which started at first contact. The British colonial system perceived Indigenous people as lesser beings by failing to respect or value this population and instead propagated extraordinary acts of cruelty upon them.
The economic, cultural, and social impacts of invasion and control of the Indigenous people has continued to accumulate across generations. This was amplified by practices and policies which have systematically disadvantaged the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. For example, the Invasion without treaty that the British Colonizers enacted in 1788 have never been reviewed even today. This policy fails to recognized the Indigenous people as part of the larger Australian population by failing to enter into negotiations with this population concerning the taking of their lands. Currently, most Indigenous people continue to feel the pain of dispossession, occupation, and lack of recognition. Precisely, this lack of recognition of the Indigenous people is one of the major tenets that have made the health aspects of this group not to be seriously addressed. In addition, the lack of engagement in the administration of health programs towards this groups have adversely affected the achievement of positive health outcomes among most Indigenous people. In addition, the institutionalized discrimination policies that existence in the 1880s are still present even today. formal structures and institutions of the time acknowledged the discrimination against the indigenous people in various aspects such as political, legal, health, and education systems. Most of these systems were operated based on the knowing of the non-indigenous people, who failed to acknowledge the value systems of the Indigenous people. Currently, the institutionalized systems have systematically disadvantaged the Indigenous group, and this is clearly reflected by the statistics relating to health, politics, education, and incarceration rates.
As a young Asian male who is studying nursing in Australia, my beliefs, values, and attitudes will influence my future health care practice with Aboriginal patients, their families and Aboriginal health workers in a myriad of ways. I strongly believe that a comprehensive care is a fundamental aspect to the wellbeing of the patients. Apparently, for a comprehensive and integrated care to be achieved, a nurse must collaborate effectively with the health workers, patient, and family members. Teamwork is one of the fundamental aspects that will help me to not only deliver high quality health care services to the Aboriginal health consumers, but also help me to learn from the diverse individuals that I will be serving and working with. This would greatly help me in avoiding making medical errors which is one of the major challenges that is not only contributing to chronic and acute injuries to the health of the patients, but also ruining the patient-nurse loyalty and relationship. For example, by collaborating with the Aboriginal health workers, Aboriginal patients and family members, I will not only manage to learn about the medical history of the patient, but also manage to make the right medication to administer to the patient.
I also believe that establishing and maintaining a good relationship with patients plays a great role as far as their recovery is concerned. A nurse can establish and maintain a good rapport with patients by encouraging effective communication with the patient, respecting him or her, getting to know him or her, listening to him, maintaining privacy or confidentiality of the patient`s health information, anticipating his or her questions and problems, conducting follow ups, and more importantly, showing concern or empathy to him or her (Kennedy 61-66). Nurses who have focused on establishing a good relationship with patients report that the relationship doe not only enhance quick recovery of patients, but also fosters patient`s loyalty towards the nurses and the health facility as a whole (Melanie & Linda 142-152). By establishing a good therapeutic relationship, the nurse also stands at a better position to learn from the patient as well, even if its aspects that are not related to health care. For my case, I will establish an effective therapeutic relationship with the Aboriginal patients by introducing myself to them, listening to them, showing empathy, building trust and maintaining high level of confidentiality especially in matters relating to their health.
I also maintain that all human beings are equal regardless of race, complexion, language, level of education, social economic status and gender. I usually feel sad when I heard of individuals discriminating others in one way or the other since discrimination lowers the self-esteem of the inferior group. This value will influence my future health care practice by preserving the dignity of all patients as well as respecting their autonomy. In regards to maintaining human dignity, Emanuel Kant stipulated that human beings should treat humanity as an end rather than a means. Preserving the dignity of all patients will not only help in facilitating the recovery of the Aboriginal patients but also enhancing the level of loyalty of the patients to the nurses and to the health facility as a whole. For example, when an Aboriginal patient recognizes that I respect him or her, he or she will feel valued and appreciated, and will always come back whenever he is unwell, recommend his friends to me, and more importantly, spread the good reputation about me and the facility.
In addition, I also exemplify the value of altruism and this will greatly influence my future health practice with Aboriginal patients, their families, and Aboriginal workers. Precisely, this value will help me to understand ad respect cultures, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Aboriginal patients, their families and health workers. Consecutively, this value will help me to advocate for the rights of the Aboriginal patients especially due to the fact that majority of them are marginalized and discriminated by their non-Indigenous Australians. For example, I will advocate for the adequate allocation of health funds to this group, enhanced access and affordability of health care services, implementation of health promotion programs, as well as condemning discrimination of the Aboriginal patients by the Non-Indigenous health professionals.
Shannon Buckley. Patient Dignity: The Significance of Relationship. McMaster University. 2012 print.
Kennedy Sheldon. Establishing a Therapeutic Relationship. Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2014 Print. Accessed from, http://samples.jbpub.com/9781449691776/9781449691776_CH05_Pass2.pdf
Melanie Belcher & Linda Jones. Graduate nurses experiences of developing trust in the nurse-patient relationship. Contemporary Nurse, 31 (2), 142-152. 2009 Print.