Deakin Rural Health

Key Influences on Aboriginal Health

Social Determinants of Health as Indicators of Health Outcomes

Social determinants have a direct impact on a person’s health and wellbeing, and need to be considered to help improve health outcomes. They include income, education, employment, stress, social networks and support, social exclusion, working, living conditions and gender.

  • Employment: in the ABS Cenus in 2006 (www.abs.gov.au), nearly three times as many Indigenous people were unemployed than non-Indigenous people, suggesting that action to improve employment and increase income is needed to help improve health outcomes.
  • Education: fewer Indigenous people have completed school or undertaken higher education than non-Indigenous people (ABS Census, 2006, www.abs.gov.au). Improving education outcomes may lead to better health outcomes for the Indigenous population.
  • Housing: Indigenous housing is frequently characterised by overcrowding, inadequate water and washing facilities, poor sanitation and sewerage disposal, limited food storage and sub-optimal food preparation areas (ABS Census, 2001. Cited in Overview of Australian Indigenous health 2006, www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au). Improvements in these conditions may lead to better health outcomes.

Poverty, social exclusion, and poor housing are among the main social impediments likely to cause ill health amongst the Indigenous population. Cultural factors should also be considered when analysing the factors influencing Aboriginal health, including traditions, attitudes, customs and beliefs.

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