Internet to Empower Indigenous Communities
Wedging the gap: Why the rhetoric is wrong for remote Aboriginal child health
The credibility of the rhetoric of Closing the Gap is predicated on the demonstration of improvement in Aboriginal Infant Mortality Rates (IMR), child health, and school engagement. The Prime Ministerial Closing the Gap Report 2012 (15 Feb 2012), which stated that the IMR was set to close by 2018 and that early childhood education would be in place for all Indigenous four-year-olds in remote communities by next year, are examples. The reality for children born in remote northern Aboriginal Australia belies these predictions. In this presentation the marked discrepancies in IMR and the increase in risk ratio of death during infancy over the past decades, and separately those for performance on the national school entry Australia Early Development Index, will be presented from an historical and anthropological perspective to illustrate the extent of the barriers to the achievement of equity in outcome for life chances in health and for future economic independence using the example of an Aboriginal child born in the remote Kimberley region of north west WA.
John Boulton has worked in the Kimberley as senior regional paediatrician since his retirement from academic paediatric practice at the University of Newcastle in 2005. His research interests were in growth and nutrition and included the childhood origins of future disease. In the Kimberley he is an advocate of the need to inform medical practice with an anthropological, historical, and demographic perspective. His present investigative focus is on an anthropological understanding of the crisis in Aboriginal child morbidity and mortality. He holds honorary academic appointments at the universities of Sydney and Newcastle.