Concept Map and Reflection Sample Essay
Racism simply refers to a situation where both prejudice and discrimination, often backed by legal authority and institutional control, exist within a community, much to the detriment of one group that forms the community. Racism is propagated by deeply entrenched social, historic and cultural inequities that have become normalized by a specific group of people over a long duration of time (Williams et al., 2019). Racism is oppressive and morally wrong as it involves the use of an individual’s authority, power and influence to treat other human beings in a manner that is not just or simply unfair.
Most non-indigenous people residing within Australia are not aware of the constant racism that Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people go through almost every day. This condition is not helped by the constant scrutiny by the police and other law enforcement agencies (Markwick et al., 2019). The media plays another key role in propagating this culture of racism by constant stories of embezzlement, corruption, child abuse, low school attendance rates and drug and substance use which further taint the image of the first people.
This culture of racism has greatly contributed to the deterioration of the people’s physical and mental health. This is quite evident due to the cases of depression, psychological distress and substance use that have become prevalent (Kairuz et al., 2020). This has also greatly contributed to transgenerational trauma. The author points out the great need to establish an effective response that recognizes the continuing state of racism, and implement programs and other ways of dealing with the problem of racism.
I am an Indian student who came to Australia a while back to further my education. Before my arrival here, I had little to no knowledge regarding the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In my country, discrimination has also been quite rampant since the olden days. Untouchability and segregation, commonly referred to as caste system and religious discrimination have been rampant for a long time.
The caste system in my country has been described as the longest surviving social hierarchy. This system groups individuals into various groups based on ritual purity. This caste system varies from one region to another, and an individual is considered a member of the caste if he or she is born into and remains a member until he or she expires. As Kumari and Mohanty (2020) notes, the country’s constitution effectively abolished the system in 1950, yet it remains quite rampant and applicable especially in the rural neighbourhoods of India.
Allocation of resources and other amenities by the state often proceeds based on the caste system. Situations have emerged where the state installs electricity only in the upper caste neighbourhoods and neglects sections occupied by members of the lower caste. Further examples of caste disparities also exist in healthcare, especially regarding the provision of medical amenities.
Religious discrimination has also been quite rampant in my country. In fact, the country has recently witnessed increased intolerance between Hindus and Muslims. These tensions have even resulted in physical assault and murder of several individuals. Despite the existence of such religious atrocities, caste system remains the most dominant form of discrimination in India (Khubchandani et al., 2018). Very many people, especially those belonging to the lower caste, have been murdered and undergone torture from individuals belonging to higher castes. Just recently in 2018, reports emerged that a thirteen-year-old girl was murdered in front of her mother by a man belonging to a higher caste after the young girl raised claims of sexual advances towards her by the man.
Racism against the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people have been rampant for a while now. Through my interaction as a nursing student with the First People, I have realized the increased incidences of psychological stress, depression and substance use all resulting from the normalized state of racism (Wylie & McConkey, 2019). Through my interaction with the First People, I constantly try to learn and familiarize myself with these people’s culture, beliefs and history. The racism has caused great suffering to them and their past generations, a situation that has not been helped up to date as a result of constant propagation of stereotypes against them by the media. Different campaigns to address this deeply rooted culture have not yielded much fruit.
As stated earlier, before coming to this country, I had very little knowledge about the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The knowledge I have acquired here has been mostly stereotypes that have been propagated by the mainstream media. However, after interaction with the First People and conducting research, I have come to the realisation that several factors in the past have greatly contributed to the current deterioration of the physical and mental health of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people; one of them being the constant racism that they have experienced.
Research indicates that racism and discrimination against the First People in Australia is a reality that is made worse by collective experiences, history of abuse, dispossession, transgenerational trauma resulting from colonisation. Data between 2015 and 2017 indicated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people born between that time frame had a lower life expectancy when compared to other non-indigenous people (Gwynne et al., 2019). The disease burden and rate of suicide was also higher than among the First People.
Racism and other forms of discrimination greatly meant that Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people have limited or no access to vital health amenities. Most health services were only readily available for the non-indigenous people with the First People being discriminated against. This greatly impacted their physical well-being. Low socioeconomic status among a majority of the First People coupled with low literacy levels resulting from discrimination in the offering of job and education opportunities consequently caused further decline in the physical health status of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people (Rheault et al., 2019). Mistreatment and other forms of physical torture as a result of being viewed as an inferior people was also a contributory factor in the decline of their physical health status.
Exposure to racism results in stress, anxiety, constant feelings of sorrow, low self-esteem, mistrust and anger. These play a key role in the development of mental health issues among the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people. According to Maina et al. (2018), this explains the increased rate of depression, psychological distress, drug and substance use among these people. The transgenerational trauma experienced as a result of racisms and other atrocities meted against them have also contributed to the cases of mental health observed.
Initiatives such as ‘close the gap’ initiative have contributed very little in addressing the issue of health inequality. The agreement signed in 2018 by the then prime minister Kevin Rudd and the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people, aimed at addressing the health inequality in the country and achieving equality in the health status and life expectancy rate among all the inhabitants of Australia (Deravin et al., 2018). Ten years later, the initiative had achieved very little. The failure has been greatly attributed to addressing lifestyle factors that affect health while ignoring racism which is key in the determination of the health status.
Critical thinking can simply be described as a reasoning process whose aim is to make meaning of an experience. It can also be termed as a descriptive, analytical and critical analysis that can be presented through word of mouth, in writing or via art. It is a key skill in critical thinking and practice (Kaya et al., 2018). Reflective practice in itself facilitates continuous learning even throughout practice. My perception of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people have been greatly altered following my research. The great health problems facing these people are due to long-term discrimination, racism and other ills against them.
This research has enlightened me on the fact that discrimination due to being different is not only experienced in my country, but that it has also greatly affected even people who were the original inhabitants of a place as observed in this scenario. Great developments in healthcare should ideally translate to improved healthcare. This is, however, not the case in this scenario clearly depicting the impact of social determinants in the overall health of individuals.
The adoption of the western biomedical model of health has also greatly contributed in undermining general health. The model, which is in use in most of the western world, focuses on health solely in terms of biological factors (Rice & Sara, 2019). It greatly overlooks how the spiritual, emotional and mental well-being of an individual is critical in the overall health of an individual. This is one of the major causes of overlooking how racism and discrimination play a key role in impacting a person’s overall well-being.
One way of addressing the great suffering experienced by the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people is practicing cultural safety. Cultural safety entails the creation of an environment that is spiritually, socially, emotionally and physically safe. Kowalski and Anthony (2017) contend that it constitutes the demonstration of respect, seeking knowledge of different culture, demonstrating reciprocity and continuously engaging the community. Cultural safety strives towards addressing power imbalances within the health care sector that have been passed on over the years.
Embracing our own culture is a key step towards embracing cultural safety. It is also critical to familiarize ourselves with other cultures while fostering a culture of respect for the diverse cultures (Hall, 2018). Establishing good relationships with the patient goes a long way in creating rapport and better understanding of the diverse cultures, beliefs and history of various individuals. As nursing students and practitioners, we should continually strive towards culturally safe practice.
Following the realization that the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people are likely to face discrimination in almost all aspects of their lives including health care, it will be my responsibility as a nursing practitioner to constantly champion for their rights and ensure that they are fairly treated. It is critical to ensure that their rights are upheld as they seek health services. Consideration of the socio-cultural factors impacting health while looking after the First People is important in ensuring that all health aspects are addressed.
I will employ good communication skills during care delivery. Good communication is essential in the establishment of a good rapport between me and my patient. good communication also enables me to fully understand my patient. The patient is able to fully express his situation in an environment defined by good communication without any fear (Tuohy, 2019). Better understanding of my patient’s culture, beliefs and thoughts through proper communication is an important component of delivering good quality care and consequently positive outcomes.
Further understanding the culture and beliefs of the First People is critical in delivery of care as a nursing practitioner. This will enable me to deliver health care that is respectful and mindful of my patient’s culture and beliefs. Respect is very important in the delivery of care and it goes a long way in rewriting the social injustices that the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people have faced over the years.
Good nursing practice entails treating every individual with the highest form of dignity and humanity. this encompasses critical understanding of my patient’s needs, demonstrating compassion and providing care in a manner that clearly demonstrates the utmost respect for all (Brandão et al., 2019). Engaging in good nursing practice will enable the First People to feel more at ease and enable them to be more open about their health issues. this will consequently translate into better health outcomes and generally reducing the issue of discrimination and racism that is directed towards them.
As discussed in this paper, it is important to understand the impact that the socio-cultural factors have on the general well-being of individuals. The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people have constantly faced discrimination and racism since the colonization of Australia. Both racism and discrimination have greatly contributed towards the current health trends observed among the First People. The media is constantly stereotyping these people due to the number of vices witnessed among them. As a nursing student, I have, however, come to the realization that the many years of racism and discrimination that these people have faced have greatly contributed towards their status.
Learning these people’s cultures, beliefs, history and leading campaigns to address the oppression they constantly face even up to date is critical in eliminating racism and creating an environment where everyone is treated equally. This will go a long way in addressing the health concerns of the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander people.
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