Indigenous Australians

Introduction
The indigenous Australians are the descendants of the Australian continent who were the first known human inhabitants. The term indigenous Australians also includes both the aboriginal people and Torres Strait islanders who together make up the 2.5% of the population in Australia. On the other hand the aboriginal people live in the main Australian island of the Tasmania and they also occupy the adjacent islands. Similarly the Torres Strait islanders are the indigenous Australians who live in the tortes strait islands which are located between the New Guinea and Australia.

In Australia the indigenous people are known to have arrived in 50,000 BC. On the other hand the indigenous Australians encompass of many diverse societies and communities but they are further divided into various local communities who have various cultures that are very unique. (Appadurai 1986)

Prior to the arrival of the British settlers the indigenous Australians population was over 700,000 across the continent .however the past distribution of these people was similar to the current Australian population with the majority of the indigenous people living in the south eastern part of the continent.

Indigenous Australians disadvantages
The population of the indigenous Australians is mostly demographically urbanized but a substantial number of them continue to live in the remote settlements that are often located in the former church mission’s sites. The indigenous Australians face a substantial number of the economic and health difficulties. On the other hand the indigenous Australians in the remote and urban populations have very advanced ratings on various social indicators which include unemployment, education, crime and also poverty.

However in 2004the Australian prime minister further initiated various contracts with the aboriginal communities where they will have access to financial; benefits in return for various commitments such as ensuring that their children attended school regularly and they also washed themselves. (Hunter 2003)

The contract which is also known as the shared responsibility agreements further saw a political shift from the aboriginal communities self determination to the mutual obligation that had been characterized as dictatorial and also paternalistic. (Arrow 1998)

Prior to the federal election in Australia there was an acknowledgement that there was some failures on the previous government policies and there was a great need for the government to recognize the distinct nature and identity of the indigenous people.

The government also realized that it needed to instigate various measures so that the culture and the identity of these indigenous people and also their heritage are properly preserved. However the crisis of the cultural and social disintegration for the indigenous Australians needs a very strong affirmation in their cultural identity and also in their culture which is their source of pride self esteem and dignity.

1. Education
In the educational system in Australia the indigenous students as a whole leave the schools earlier than the other non indigenous students. This also means that they also leave the schools with seemingly low educational standards in comparison to their peers who are non-indigenous.

The situation has however been improving slowly but significantly and the indigenous Australians are also improving in their levels of participation in education and training even though their levels of attainment is lower than that of the non-indigenous Australians. (Altman 2002)

Statistics further show that there are only 39% of the indigenous students who stay on up to the year 12 in comparison to 75% of the Australian population who stay up to the same grade. Similarly the indigenous adults who have a higher education or vocational qualifications are 22% in comparison top the Australian population who take 48% in the same. There is only 4% of the indigenous Australians who a higher or a bachelors degree in comparison with the 21% of the Australian population as a whole. (Berndt 1988)

This fraction is however increasing but at a slower rate for the indigenous Australians than the non-indigenous Australians. The Australian government on the other hand has formulated an educational policy that encompasses all the indigenous Australians and at the same time it has also instigated some educational initiatives which are very beneficial to the indigenous people.
Source; The social justice and human rights issues (2007) http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/statistics/index.html

Non-Indigenous people Indigenous peoples
Completion of Year 12 76% 28%
Post-school qualifications 31% 11%
Unemployment rate 9% 23%
Median weekly income (Males) $415 $189
Home ownership 71% 31%

2. Employment
According to a census that was carried out in the year 2001 the indigenous Australians are almost three times more likely to be unemployed in comparison to the non-indigenous Australians who have more employment opportunities.

This great disparity is not solely due to the proportion increase in the indigenous Australian’s who live in the rural communities since the rate of unemployment for their populations is higher than for those who are living in the urban centers. (Canberra 1996)

On the other hand the average household income for the populations of the indigenous Australians is 60% of the average for the non-indigenous population. On the other hand the indigenous Australians are 15 fold more likely to be living in dwellings that have been improvised, 6 fold more likely to be in homeless situations and 25 fold more likely to be living together with ten people or even more.
3. Health and health facilities
The Australian indigenous people have very many health and risk factors and this is directly related to their social economic status. Statistics further shows that the indigenous population is much younger than the non-indigenous population. In general the indigenous Australian women have more children and they also had them at the younger ages in comparison to the non-indigenous women.

Similarly due to the birth patterns in the recent past the indigenous women would on average have 2.11 births in their lifetime in comparison to the non-indigenous women who usually have 1.8 births on average. There are also more indigenous mothers who are teenagers compared to the non-indigenous mothers. The Australian indigenous people are also more likely to die before their old age more than the rest of the Australian population. (McDonald 1992)

Similarly the death rates directly relates to the number of deaths to the total population. Thus after taking into account of the facts that the Australian indigenous population is much younger than the population of the non-indigenous Australians. The indigenous people are also reported to have longer terms cardiovascular disorders and in particular the old age groups which have commonly reported the high blood pressure condition.

Source; The social justice and human rights issues (2007) http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/statistics/index.html
Health problem Comparative incidence rate Comment
Dementia 26 fold The chance of developing dementia is 26 times more than the rest of the Australian population
Circulatory system diseases 2-10 fold The circulatory system diseases and disorders account for 20% of the indigenous total deaths
Diabetes 3-4 fold The non-indigenous people who suffer from this diseases are only 3%
Kidney diseases 2-3 fold More indigenous people suffer from the kidney disorders than the non-indigenous population
Cancers 60% increases in death rate There are more increased death rates from cancers in the indigenous populations
Respiratory diseases 3-4 fold It accounts for 8% of the indigenous peoples deaths.
Communicable diseases Up to 70 fold The indigenous people are more prone to communicable diseases than the other population
External causes 3 fold increase in fatalities These make up to 30% in the indigenous populations
Vision problems 2 fold There is a two fold increases in cataracts
Oral; health 2 fold increase There is also a two fold increase in the children’s dental decay
Mental health 2-5 fold There is a major increase in the in drug induced mental disorders for the indigenous populations
Infant mortality 2-3 fold The infant mortality rates for the indigenous infants is three times more than that of the non-indigenous infants
The sociological theories that is most useful in understanding the Australian indigenous disadvantage
The social capital theory is the most useful sociological theory that can be used in understanding the disadvantage of the Australian indigenous people. This concept however provides a framework that makes it possible to understand the indigenous people in their social settings. The public bad or good aspect in the social capital theory is more relevant for the indigenous Australians who have very prominent features in their reciprocal obligations. (Canberra 1992)

The social capital concept further stresses on the importance of the horizontal and vertical associations between the indigenous people and the non-indigenous people and their relationships in their organizational entities. This social theory view is very relevant in the indigenous context with a number of considerable claims on an individual’s sense of obligation

How a registered nurse can address the symbolic and this practical disadvantage
There is a lot of poor communication that exists between the indigenous Australians and the health workers and this act as a hindrance for the indigenous individuals to comfortably access the health services. First and foremost in order for the registered nurse to address the practical and the symbolic disadvantage they should be well trained and conversant with the beliefs attitudes as well as the values of the indigenous people.
This will however make it very easy for the nurse to freely interact with the indigenous people with a better understanding. (Canberra 1994)
The registered nurse should also be open minded while dealing with the indigenous people and she should also be accommodative and not create any discriminative personal perceptions. On the other hand the nurse should also treat all the patients who visit the health facilities with equality and she should not openly show any form of discrimination between the indigenous and the non-indigenous people.

Conclusion
The indigenous Australians are one of the most socially excluded groups in the world and they provide an extreme test of the social capital theory which allows other people to examine them. The indigenous Australians are also the poorest in comparison to the non-indigenous Australians who are disconnected from the life events that cause extreme poverty and deprivation among the indigenous Australians.

The indigenous families in Australia experience so much social economic disadvantage and they are also so different from the other poor or rich Australians. Their destitution however made them to experience a model of the indigenous disadvantage.

In conclusion the Australian indigenous people have been socially excluded from the mainstream Australian continent. The discrimination issues against the indigenous Australians could possibly be a special form of social competition that is generally based on the racial characteristics. (Canberra 1996)

Reference:
Canberra, J. (1996): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and Office of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Indigenous Deaths in Custody 1989 to 1996.

Canberra, J. (1994): Australian Bureau of Statistics, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Survey

Canberra, J. (1992): Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Statistical Collections

McDonald, D. (1992): National Police Custody Survey Preliminary Report. Australian Institute of Criminology National Aboriginal Health Strategy: an evaluation,

Canberra, J. (1996): Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australia’s Health National Prison Census.

Altman, J. (2002): Aboriginal economy and social process, The Indigenous hybrid economy and its sustainable development.

Hunter, B. (2003): Evaluating Indigenous socioeconomic outcomes in the reconciliation decade. 1991–2001, Economic Papers,

Appadurai, A. (1986): The Social Life of Things, Commodities in Cultural Perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Arrow, K. (1998): What has economics to say about racial discrimination? Journal of Economic development.

Berndt, R. (1988): The World of the First Australians, Aboriginal Traditional Life. Past and Present, Aboriginal Studies Press.

Retrieved from; The social justice and human rights issues (2007) http://www.hreoc.gov.au/social_justice/statistics/index.html
Accessed on 23rd October 2007.

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