Dr Rosalie Schultz, Flinders University PhD student is investigating Caring for Country programs which are creating a revolution in relationships between Aboriginal people and non-indigenous Australians. A convergence of interests – business, environmental, legal, and educational are enabling this transformation, and achieving social, economic and health benefits.
Caring for Country reflects recognition of the meaning of health for Aboriginal people. Health is not comprised entirely of individual indicators but recognises social, emotional, cultural and environmental aspects.
Greater investment in environmental programs and facilitating the access of Aboriginal people to their country are improving health outcomes. Caring for Country is an element of comprehensive primary health care as it was originally conceived, through its basis in local community resources, access to employment opportunities and relationship to food security. Besides the physical activity, opportunity for harvesting bush foods and meaningful employment that Caring for Country provides, Aboriginal people can re-assert their authority and knowledge of the country and enjoy greater control of their lives.
Health services have the opportunity to magnify health benefits through facilitating aspects of Caring for Country. One of the issues that health services face as they consider the health of Aboriginal people is the narrowly defined remit of health services and the intense accountability requirements placed on them. By highlighting the meaning of health for Aboriginal people, particularly its relationship to the health of the country, health services can contribute to a broader based approach to health.
Dr Schultz, based at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs, acknowledges the contribution and support of the Aboriginal people and organisations, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and her supervisors, in particular Associate Professor, Sheree Cairney.
Find out more
Medical Journal of Australia – Caring for country and the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (open Access article published 3rd July 2017)
Hear Dr Schultz talk about her research (10 minute podcast).