Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Intersectional dimensions to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people with disability (#206)

Scott Avery 1
  1. First Peoples Disability Network , Sydney, NSW, Australia

Australia’s Indigenous Peoples with disability are some of the marginalised citizens in society. The recent National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey (ABS, 2016) shows that 45% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people identify as having a disability, and 9.1% of Indigenous people are living with severe and profound disability. The prevalence of disability for Indigenous Australians is 2.1 times of other Australians.

Despite the high rate of disability prevalence amongst Indigenous peoples, there is currently an inadequate understanding of their rights to inclusion as reflected in policy and practice. This impacts negatively on their inclusions within society, and hence their social and emotional wellbeing, across all stages of their life trajectory. An Indigenous person with disability has multiple attributes to their identity; one pertaining to their Indigenous status and another pertaining to their disability. Addressing one aspect of a person rights in isolation from the composite rights can leave them excluded from another aspect of society important to their sense of identity. Addressing neither can leave a person entirely marginalised and voiceless in a complex disability support system.

Intersectionality provides a framework acknowledging the multiple dimensions of a person’s identity as they affect health and wellbeing. Using the narratives of lived experience from Indigenous people with disability, this presentation will illustrate how institutional and systemic barriers relating to both a person’s Indigenous status and disability, interact at all stages across a person’s life–from the environment they are born into, early childhood, restricted learning and educational opportunities, limited employment prospects, and an increased likelihood of coming into contact with the justice system.

Using narratives of Indigenous peoples’ experience with the health sector, this presentation will emphasise the effect of ‘intersectional discrimination’, which from a disability perspective relates to how racism in health (Larson et al, 2007; Priest et al, 2014; Ferdinand et al 2012 ) intersects with ableism or diagnostic over-shadowing (Katerria & Bywood, 2001), and the catastrophic health consequences that can occur when multiple forms of discrimination interact with each other. Whilst this particular perspective emphasises disability as an intersectional risk to the right to heath for Indigenous Peoples, the concept of also applies in relation to other aspects of a person identity, including for example gender; age; exposure to trauma; Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex; deprivation of liberty.