The impact of introduced diseases was almost certainly the major cause of death for Indigenous people, but direct conflict and occupation of Indigenous homelands also contributed substantially to Indigenous mortality. The initial responses of Indigenous people to the arrival of the First Fleet were apparently quite peaceful, but it didn’t take long before conflict started to occur – initially over access to fish stocks and then as non-Indigenous people started to plant crops and introduce livestock. This pattern of conflict almost certainly occurred as non-Indigenous people spread across the country.
There was no separate term in Indigenous languages for health as it is understood in western society. The traditional Indigenous perspective of health is holistic. It encompasses everything important in a person’s life, including land, environment, physical body, community, relationships and law. Health is the social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing of the whole community and the concept is thus linked to the sense of being Indigenous.
Unfortunately, Australia is the only country on this planet where the health of it’s indigenous population is actually going backwards! Change the World is looking to work with selected communities to help in this area. we are still looking for the ‘right’ community to begin dialogue with.
Anne Tindall – Founder Change the World