This issue is timely in both Australia and Aotearoa. In Australia, there is current discourse around a referendum for a Voice to Parliament, and subsequent Makarata (truth telling commission) and treaty.
Not being a ‘clinically heavy’ issue, the temptation for many, we suspect, will be to have a brief flick through the issue and not pay much attention to the articles within. As doctors and responsible members of society, we have a duty to uphold principles of health equity and advocate for those in society who do not enjoy the same health as the incumbent majority. It is just as important to be well informed and across the issues in Indigenous health as it is to know about a surgical procedure or an obstetric guideline.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were Australia’s first peoples. There were over 500 nations when the early European settlers arrived. Hence First Nations people is an apt description. Our sovereignty was never ceded, there was never a treaty. Colonisation, or invasion, led to irrevocable impacts on First Nations people, with an ongoing legacy to this day.
For far too long, discussion on Indigenous health issues has been through a deficit lens. We are all well aware of the disparities that exist, and the time has come for action. The stories in this issue are inspiring and speak to the strength of our culture and language. We need to be empowered to make positive changes. Non-Indigenous culture and knowledge can be so much richer if Indigenous ways of knowing and holistic approaches were valued and incorporated.
Dr Marilyn Clarke
Chair, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Health Committee
O&G senior staff specialist; Clinical Director, O&G Coffs Clinical Network Worimi
Senior academic advisor, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour
Please note: Dr Leigh Duncan, Chair of He Hono Wāhine, is a co-editor for this issue, but was unfortunately affected by the devastating floods in Aotearoa. Her editorial notes were lost when her home was flooded. We will make Dr Duncan’s editorial available here as soon as is practical. Our hearts go out to all those affected by cyclone Gabrielle.