Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Cultural inclusion: The forgotten determinant of health (#235)

Kerrie E Doyle 1
  1. RMIT, Bundoora, VIC, Australia

The gap in all facets of Indigenous peoples’ lives when compared to non-Indigenous peoples continue challenge us all. To date, state and federal governments have funded programs targeting specific building blocks such as early childhood education, or addressing chronicity of disease. This approach while laudable does not specifically address the determinants of health. Research clearly demonstrates that racism and social exclusion are determinants of health. A function of racist colonialism is that community members learn their winning formula of excluding their own people for a number of reasons. My PhD research conducted across the east coast of Australia, demonstrates that racist behaviours (e.g. ignoring, gossiping, withholding) when used against other Indigenous people, function to exclude individuals or groups from their Indigenous community. This cultural exclusion, where the victim is placed at camp-fire distance, is positively correlated with psychological distress. The protective factors included being of the same skin colour (not lighter or darker) than the community; and living on one’s own country. Given that less than 20%of Indigenous people live on their country, and that Indigenous people come in a multitude of skin tones, and 60% of Indigenous people reported psychological distress, then urgent action needs to be considered within our own communities. One recommendation is creating resources that bring attention to these behaviours, and to create mindful awareness in individuals and communities, to build resistance and resilience to cultural exclusion.