Health experts are urging all Australians to learn about their Indigenous health and wellness, in the wake of a spate of Indigenous deaths.
Indigenous people are one of the most vulnerable groups in Australia, and a growing number of people are living in isolation and in poverty.
“People need to get the facts,” said Dr Andrew Jones, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, who is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous health experts.
He said the information people were getting about Indigenous health was “not necessarily useful”.
“It’s often just misinformation, misinformation, and misinformation in general,” Dr Jones said.
Dr Jones said Indigenous people often had a hard time understanding their own bodies.
“[They are] very good at not talking about their own body,” he said.
“When you have this culture, you don’t really know yourself.”
Dr Jones, who has worked with the Northern Territory’s Indigenous Health Network, said Indigenous Australians were often unable to access medical advice and support because of cultural barriers.
There were also cultural barriers to getting adequate and accurate medical care, he said, which was “really concerning”.
“You are a small population, you are not going to be able to treat your own community,” he told the ABC.
“I think people need to understand that if you are Indigenous, it’s not something that you’re going to have access to, you’re not going be able go and get medical care from somebody.
They need to make sure that they have access, because that’s how you’re likely to get better.”
Dr Anthony O’Connor, who runs a health-related research centre at the Queensland University of Technology, said people needed to understand their Indigenous identities and health needs.
I’m not going anywhere soon, Dr O’Connor said.
“I want to understand what my Indigenous identity is, how it’s formed and what it’s been through, and how it relates to health.”
“I’m going to continue to be very interested in this issue,” he added.