Working with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples & communities

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Assessment Type


Word Count

1750 words




3 Days

Assignment Criteria

Part B – Students will choose one social issue experienced by Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and provide an overview of the history of SW&HS practice with respect to this issue and a critical examination of current best practicePlease see the individual instruction sheet for the topic you choose for additional guidance on how to complete this assessment.


“The causes of the persisting poor state of Indigenous health are complicated but the continuing consequences of the colonial experience constitute an important dynamic in reproducing this poor health status”. (Public Health Association of Australia, 2010). 

Critically analyse how colonisation has impacted on the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in contemporary society, and provide an overview of a program or service that currently operates to enhance Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.


  • Focusing on a specific health issues to make it less broad – perhaps look at the Closing the Gap website to gain ideas of health issues
  • What are the historical issues that have impacted on Indigenous people (eg: the implementation of particular policies)
  • How might those policies have impacted on people's health at the time?
  • Why is health still being compromised?

Examples may be: (but there are others) 

  • Lack of decent living conditions
  • Poor nutrition (costs associated with foods in communities or unhealthy eating habits learnt from not having decent food on the missions/reserves)
  • Dependency on welfare (Maddison talks of this)
  • Generational trauma which has led to the uptake of substance abuse, smoking etc

The discussion about the service and how it supports families is a minimal part of your paper.  Consider:

  • What the program is called?
  • Why and when was it established?
  • What does it offer? How does it support Indigenous people?
  • Who is it funded by?
  • Where is it located?

Add any additional information you think is interesting

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Assignment Solution


 The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the original population of Australia who inhabited the island thousands of years ago. However, with the advent of British people, the indigenous people of Australia witnessed colonisation, and since then several rules, policies and their marginalisation have left them with the limited resource (Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2016). Stemming from this, the experience of colonisation and systemic racism has resulted in poor outcomes for employment, income, education, stress, living conditions, work conditions, support and social networks (Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2016). These can be majorly termed as ecological factors that affect the health of the indigenous population (AIHW, 2011). Other factors such as culture, traditions, customs, beliefs and attitudes are the social and cultural factors that are personal in nature (Chater, 2013). Today most of the indigenous people are affected by social and mental health problems as both a direct and indirect consequence of these experiences (Aboriginal Heritage Office, 2016). However, in order to eradicate such issues, it is first important to understand their root cause and then derive at a practical and rational approach (Australian Indigenous Health Info, 2015). 

Historical Issues and Policies

Many scholars have pointed out that the period of colonisation has a direct implication to the Health and well- being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (Australian Indigenous Health Info, 2015). Before the colonisation, the Indigenous people did not experience diseases such as smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, gonorrhoea, tuberculosis, influenza etc. These diseases were part of the western world, and Europeans experienced them during black deaths, plaques, etc. However, after the colonisation new diseases also introduced to indigenous territory that started with smallpox, sexually transmitted infections and later continued till whooping cold, scarlet fever and influenza (Australian Council of Social Service, 2014). Thus, many indigenous lives were lost during this time, particularly due to smallpox and continued to do so due to social disruption and depopulation that signified an epidemic (Chater, 2013). These diseases caused several deaths among indigenous people immediately; however, direct conflicts with colonisers were also the leading cause of increasingly poor health. 

Many scholars have pointed out that the period of colonisation has a direct implication to the Health and well- being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population (Australian Indigenous Health Info, 2015). 

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