Health equality in Australia is a national issue

30 November 2012

In the editorial in December’s Australian Journal of Rural Health, James A. Dunbar and Elizabeth Peach argue that health inequality in Australia is a national concern, not just a ‘rural’ one.

They argue that the continuing disparity of health between metropolitan and non- metropolitan residents means that it is time to introduce regular, national biomedical risk factor surveys so that interventions can be monitored and unsuccessful approaches dropped.

The authors praise recent initiatives such as the national primary health care and national preventive health strategies and the creation of Medicare Locals, which indicate a more comprehensive approach to addressing health inequalities.

In the same AJRH issue, ‘Hear our stories’: Child-rearing practices of a remote Australian Aboriginal community by Lyn Byers and others addresses the fact that insufficient is known and understood about Aboriginal parenting methods. Child rearing cannot be understood in a cultural vacuum and the authors’ study of a remote central Australian Indigenous community provides insights into positive child-rearing practices which can help non-Aboriginal service providers to work more effectively with Aboriginal families.

Nicholas Biddle writes about Measures of Indigenous social capital and their relationship with well-being. His study found that those with higher levels of social capital reported higher emotional wellbeing and that social support, the ability to have a say and trust were important factors in this positive outcome.

Another piece of original research reported in this latest issue of AJRH examines the impact of remoteness on the incidence of myocardial infarction in Western Australia. It confirms a non-metropolitan disadvantage in this condition. The study concludes that these regional variations reflect "the interplay of the many factors contributing to the complex relationship between myocardial infarction incidence and sex, age, Aboriginality and residence. Aboriginal Western Australians in all regions and young non-Aboriginal men living in very remote areas need to be targeted to reduce disparities in myocardial infarction."

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