Indigenous health and the law

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An examination of the way in which law interacts with Indigenous health in Australia must begin with an obvious question: why, after more than a century of apparently well intentioned legal intervention, is indigenous health still so dramatically worse than that of the non-Indigenous population? To begin to answer this question, it is necessary to understand that non-Indigenous law and Indigenous health have never existed in a neutral, interdependent relationship. Rather, non-Indigenous law is historically complicit in - and sometimes, directly responsible for - near catastrophic damage to Indigenous bodies.
It is important to understand this history as far as possible in an 'Indigenous informed conceptual framework', a framework that respects the ways Indigenous people view health and the world. This will help a non-Indigenous observer to both understand why Indigenous health has historically been so poor, and make some sense of the way the barriers to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health might be overcome. The first part of this chapter provides a brief snapshot of some key recent statistics on Indigenous health. The second part outlines some of the historical and policy issues that intersect with Indigenous health issues. The third part examines how law has interacted with and impacted upon Indigenous health for better and for worse.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Law
Subtitle of host publicationFrameworks and context
EditorsAnne-Maree Farrell, John Devereux, Isabel Karpin, Penelope Weller
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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