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Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda?


Cox, T and Hoang, H and Mond, J and Cross, M, Closing the Gap in Aboriginal health disparities: is there a place for Elders in the neoliberal agenda?, Australian Health Review pp. A-E. ISSN 0156-5788 (2021) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Journal compilation Copyright AHHA 2021

DOI: doi:10.1071/AH21098


Objective: In light of concerns surrounding neoliberal government approaches to addressing Aboriginal disadvantage, this project examined how Elders consider the Closing the Gap programs for improving community health outcomes.

Methods: A participatory action research project was undertaken in collaboration with eight Elders from a remote Aboriginal community in Australia’s island state of Tasmania. The findings emerged from thematic analysis of individual interviews and yarning circles.

Results: The Closing the Gap programs were seen by Elders as having instrumental value for addressing Aboriginal community disadvantage. However, the programs also represented a source of ongoing dependency that threatened to undermine the community’s autonomy, self-determination and cultural foundations. The findings emerged to represent Elders attempting to reconcile this tension by embedding the programs with cultural values or promoting culture separately from the programs. Ultimately, the Elders saw culture as the core business of community well-being and effective program delivery.

Conclusion: The findings are reflective of tensions that arise when neoliberal policies are imposed on Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. The Elders premised cultural well-being as the key determinant of Aboriginal community health.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Aboriginal Elders, community health, cultural well-being, participatory action research
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Rural and remote health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Cox, T (Mr Terry Cox)
UTAS Author:Hoang, H (Dr Ha Hoang)
UTAS Author:Mond, J (Dr Jon Mond)
UTAS Author:Cross, M (Dr Merylin Cross)
ID Code:147986
Year Published:2021
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2021-11-26
Last Modified:2021-12-23

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