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Determinants of Health

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Determinants of Health

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Determinants of Health


Health determinants are a range of factors that impact on the health status of populations or that of an individual. It is important to note that in health every life stage is determined by complex interactions between social and economic factors, the individual physical and behaviour environment. The factors do not exist independently in isolation but interact in one way or the other. The Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people are disadvantaged in terms of health as compared to other non-indigenous Australians due to the low regard of health determinants among them. This paper will look at how the determinants of health impact on a population so as to explain why the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people are disadvantaged in health wise in comparison to non-indigenous Australians. The determinants of health that will be looked at will be education, housing, location, and racism and racial discrimination.


        Education is a determinant of health classified under social determinant of health. According to studies by World Health Organisation, low levels of education are linked to factors such as lower self-confidence, more stress, and poor health. The level of one’s educational attainment is in most places gaining speed as recognition of crucial social health determinant. While attainment of higher education can play an important role in determining employment opportunities, it also increases a person’s capacity for better decision making in regard to health. Education also provides scope for increasing personal and social resources that are significant for mental and physical health. According to Brown (2011) educati0n, training and empl0yment have been identified in the last decade as a key pri0rity f0r impr0ving Indigen0us 0utc0mes. In t0day’s highly gl0balized kn0wledge based s0ciety p0stsec0ndary educati0n (PSE) is fast bec0ming a minimum requirement f0r securing empl0yment that can aff0rd y0ung adults the ec0n0mic, s0cial and pers0nal res0urces needed f0r better health.

Statistics show that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people have lower representations in educational institutions in comparisons to non-indigenous Australians. For example, in the years 2014 to 2015, 21% of indigenous Australian who were 15 years of age and above were currently pursuing their studies in educational institutions in comparison to 18% of non-indigenous Australians (Tye 2014, p.20). Though over the years the number of Aboriginal people in educational institutions has increased due to different government initiatives, the difference is still significant to date. In remote places, literacy rates are seen to be the lowest among Aboriginal people. The reason for this includes low poor attendance and low literacy of the parents. The low literacy of the parent of indigenous Australians parents directly impact their next generation as they do not encourage education to their children. Initiatives by the government such as Accelerated Literacy Program aim to raise the literacy of indigenous Australians to that of their non-Aboriginal peers.

        The association between health and education is strongly supported by various literatures. However, the causation image has not been depicted convincingly. A meta-analysis conducted by Baker on the effect of education on adult mortality showed that adults with lower secondary schooling or no education have a 46% higher probability of early death compared to their counterparts with a higher education (Tye 2014, p.22). The study that represented 20 million people worldwide concluded that there is a substantial, consistent, and independent effect of education on the mortality of adults. This explains some researches in Australia that found people with lower educational qualification suffering more from cardiovascular diseases as compared to those with a university degree. Explanation to education and health relation states that people who are schooled have a higher cognitive ability to make healthy choices. This brings into perspective why Aboriginal people have a higher mortality in comparison to non-indigenous Australians in relation to their low educational status.


        Housing is another health determinant. Good housing pr0m0tes g00d physical and mental health. G00d health depends 0n having h0mes that are safe and free fr0m physical hazards. In c0ntrast, p00r quality and inadequate h0using c0ntributes t0 health pr0blems such as chr0nic diseases and injuries, and can have harmful effects 0n childh00d devel0pment. P00r ind00r air quality, lead paint, and 0ther hazards 0ften c0exist in h0mes thus placing children and families at great risk f0r multiple health pr0blems. Various studies show that Ab0riginal and T0rres Strait Islander pe0ple are ten times m0re likely than n0n-Indigen0us pe0ple t0 be h0meless, which is an indicat0r 0f the level 0f health and s0cial disparity that exists between the tw0 gr0ups (Brown 2011).



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