Across the great divide: health in rural Victoria

by Stephen Duckett


Presented at La Trobe University, Bendigo, Monday 26 November 2018

It is an indictment of all Australians that the health status of aboriginal people is so poor, Grattan’s Health Program Director Stephen Duckett argues in the Inaugural Violet Marshman Oration.

He says the antecedents of poor Indigenous health status reflect the dispossession of prior generations and are not going to be addressed quickly or simply. The solutions include putting more authority into the hands of Indigenous communities to manage their own health services, to set their own priorities and to work in culturally appropriate ways.

There is a complex interaction of factors involved in the creation of health and disease. This means that attempting to reduce the prevalence of disease is complex.

We need to recognise the causes of causes – the social and cultural context, the family environment, and the physical environment. But for some reason, we don’t seem to do this. For some reason we deny this and keep designing programs which assume that disease is principally caused by individual behaviour, unaffected by the individual’s context and environment.

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