Sociology & Indigenous Health Disparities

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Sociology is playing an important role in the alarming health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Although statistics are slowly improving, currently Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people endure much poorer health outcomes than non-Indigenous Australians. For the 2005–2007 period, life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 67 years for Indigenous males and 73 years for Indigenous females, representing gaps of 11.5 and 9.7 years, respectively, compared with all Australians. In 2008, almost one-third of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (aged 16–24 years) had high or very high levels of psychological distress. Indigenous young people died at a rate 2.5 times as high as that for non-Indigenous young people Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 0–14 years died at more than twice the rate of non-Indigenous children. For Indigenous children aged 5–14 years, external causes were the leading cause of death between 2003 and 2007—3 times the rate for nonIndigenous children (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011 p. ix-x) Sociology can help us answer some of the questions as to why this is still an issue in contemporary Australia. It can provide us with a better understanding of culture and human behaviour within societies. C. Wright Mills believed in order to understand these societies one must first develop ‘social imagination’ - a methodology which guides sociological practice. One of the three elements that comprise this methodology is: Seeing the strange in the familiar. This, challenges us to question the assumptions we make about society and behaviors and attitudes we take for granted. If we apply this to the statistics, of the crisis in aboriginal health, we find that it is strange, that this crisis is in fact of equal proportion to that of a 3rd world country. And strange,
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