[Solved] disadvantaged groups in australia

Critically analyse the following quote from Sarah Wise (2011) “As Australians we promulgate the value of a fair go. Yet there are individuals and groups in our society that experience extreme and persistent disadvantage that sets them apart from the rest of our society”. (Reference: Wise, S. (2011) “Advance Australia Fairly” Sydney Morning Herald. January 14, 2011) One of the most predominant values in Australian society is that of ‘mateship’ (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg 49). Such a value promotes equality of life amongst Australians, and eliminates discrimination.

Whilst this is such an accentuated initiative, disadvantage and inequality still exists in the context of Indigenous Australians. To fully understand the issues that exist within Indigenous communities, it is necessary to apply a sociological imagination and expand analysis to the larger society they are part of (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 4, 5). The struggles of Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders such as employment, education, income and health are closely linked to their views and actions, and would not be as they are if it weren’t for non-Indigenous Australians and their society (Henslin, J. A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 4, 5). Therefore it is necessary to address the history of and relationship between Indigenous peoples’ and non-Indigenous people. The indigenous community greatly disapproved of being governed by the Australian governments (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 290) and so established their own Aboriginal Provisional Government to form their own policies that correlate with their laws and values (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 90; Pratt 2004).

The federal government responded to this in 1990 and set up the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission in order to give Indigenous peoples the chance to govern themselves and have an elective role in their management and authority. The issue with making exceptions like this for Aboriginals is that it breaches the principals of non-discrimination and equality. It is very hard to reshape the legal system for Aboriginals without violating the commonality of human rights. This is also an issue ssociated with acknowledging and recognising Aboriginal customary laws, which do not always adhere to mainstream Australian laws and human rights (International Law Association 2007, pg. 18 – 20). For this reason the government has stated that it is “unable to endorse the approach to customary law in the Council’s Declaration as the Government believes all Australians are equally subject to a common set of laws…

Neither the government nor the general community… is prepared to support any action which would entrench additional, special or different rights for one part of the community. (International Law Association 2007, pg 20). Many Australians believe one of the government’s main roles is to close the socio-economic gap and to work towards equal income opportunities (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 50; Hughes, P et al 2003 pg. 25). The median weekly income for indigenous adults in 1991 was a mere 70% of the non-indigenous income. It has continued to drop, being only 65% in 1996 and as low as 59% in 2001 (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010 pg. 288-289). These statistics demonstrates how greatly disadvantaged the indigenous Australian population is.

Furthermore, the unemployment rate for indigenous Australians, 16. 6% is more than three times the unemployment rate for non-indigenous Australians, 5. 0% (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 289, ABS 2008). A low income and lack of employment can be detrimental to a community, as it limits their capacity to participate. The involvement of people in their community is critical if we look at the work of Emile Durkheim. He developed the idea that social integration greatly influences ones quality of life (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 14 – 16).

Applying this theory to the Indigenous context it can be said that many social, economic and health problems that exist are strongly linked to the history of treatment of Aboriginals, in that they were excluded and rejected in colonial society, with policies such as assimilation, segregation and dispossession that sought to either exclude them or mould them to the European Australian population (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 284 – 286) The high unemployment rate of indigenous peoples is an ongoing result of how they were treated when Australia was first colonised.

Because of this, the Australian Federal Government developed a ‘Decade of Reconciliation’ from 1991 – 2001. The aim of this was to undo the injustices that came about through colonisation, and restore rights to Indigenous Australians (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 290). Further action was taken in February 2008 when the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologised to the indigenous community, acknowledging the past mistakes of the government, the ongoing problems that had resulted, and the rights of the aboriginals (Henslin, J. A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 290). Unemployment also limits ones access to basic human resources and necessities and therefore creates a greater dependency on the government and an increase in economical stress on social programs (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Workplace Relations 2000, pg. 65).

The Australian Human Rights Commission makes records of complaints it receives regarding discrimination on the work place. Whilst Indigenous Australians make up a mere 2. % of the Australian Population (ABS 2001, pg. 9), they make up 11 percent of discrimination complaints and account for almost 50% of the complaints that fall under the Racial Discrimination Act (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 278 – 288; Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2008). Whilst it is evident that Aboriginals’ political rights are need much attention, they are also largely disadvantaged and underprivileged compared to non-indigenous Australians (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 88). Health problems that are rare or no longer issues for non-indigenous Australians are still prevalent in indigenous communities (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 288). Infant mortality amongst Indigenous peoples, for example, has remained to be about two and a half times the rate for non-indigenous Australians, since the 1980’s (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 288). Another issue that most non-indigenous Australians wouldn’t have to have concern for is the quality of their water.

A survey conducted in 2001 found that a third of the water supply in remote Indigenous communities was found to be of a less than basic quality (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 288, ABS 2003). Uncommon health issues such as these are still significant in Indigenous communities, and poorly affect their quality of life. Non indigenous men in Australia are expected to live to 77 years, and women to 82 years. This is noticeably different to the life expectancy of Indigenous men, which is 56 years and the life expectancy of 63 years for Indigenous women.

Because this is such an important issue, Indigenous and non-Indigenous health organisations combined with non-government and human rights organisations to develop the ‘Close The Gap’ campaign which aims to close the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians. The campaign commits to establishing long-term plans to provide health care to Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, whilst ensuring their inclusion and participation in the process and decision making (Australian Human Rights Commission n. d. ). Another issue is the education of Indigenous peoples.

Statistics show that in 2008, only 21% of Indigenous Australians had completed a secondary level of education, which is less than half as many as the 54% of non-Indigenous Australians who completed theirs (Henslin, J. , A. Possamai and A. Possamai-Inesedy 2010, pg. 288, pg. 26). Education is listed as a basic right many of the articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Australian Human Rights Commission 2007). The government has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to improving the school attendance rates of indigenous peoples.

This is evident in the four major goals of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy. The goals aim to eliminate factors that contribute to a lack of education, such as exclusion from planning, delivery and evaluation of education systems, absence of indigenous staff and the lack of access to school services, particularly in rural communities. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy strives to eliminate these barriers in order to achieve equal opportunities for Indigenous students (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations n. . ). The government’s Indigenous Economic Development Strategy discusses the governments’ current strategies and lays out the future plans to address the issue of Indigenous attendance at educational institutes. One of the main aims of these strategies is to build up the relationship between students, their families and the school through the Parental and Community Engagement Program. The government also promotes the parental role in education, and pushes parents to enforce school attendance.

Scholarships are being funded by the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, with the aim of promoting secondary education and providing more opportunities for Indigenous children. Another project to increase access to education is the work of the Aboriginal Hostels Limited which provides boarding facilities for secondary students in the Northern Territory. More beds are currently being built to accommodate the students of this remote area (Commonwealth of Australia 2010). The Commonwealth also established and funded the National Accelerated Literacy Program to improve the literary skills of Indigenous people in remote areas.

The program oversees the development of lesson plans and resources that align with the curriculum, as well as directing staff development and training, involving Catholic and AIC schools as well as other educational organisations (Aboriginal Independent Community Schools 2009). A major injustice for Indigenous Australians is their contact with the Criminal Justice System. As was mentioned before, Indigenous Australians make up only 2. 5% of the Australian population. In prisons, however, they make up 20% (ABS 2001, pg. 9). This over-representation is due largely to the high visibility of Indigenous Australian, being a minority.

This tends to make them a particular focus of public attention and leads to heightened sensitivity about their behaviour generally (Australian Government n. d. ). This tends to make them more likely to be drawn to the attention of police and challenged for matters that would not normally warrant attention. In a circular pattern of cause and effect, the prevalence Indigenous offenders in front of courts heightens public concerns and causes suspicion and mistrust and, as a result, they are unjustly over – represented in the criminal justice system (The Office of Crime Statistics & Research 2000).

By addressing the disadvantages of Indigenous people in today’s society, not only will their quality of life be improved, but there are also many economic benefits. By raising the life expectancy for Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders and addressing unemployment, the GDP could be increased. Study has shown that the GDP could be 1% higher in 2029 than if these issues weren’t addressed, that 1% being equal to approximately $10 billion. With an increased GDP living standards would increase for Australians and would further contribute to advancing the Indigenous population (Australian Human Rights Commission 2008).

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