Purro Birik - 5

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Purro Birik - (Healthy Spirit)



4. Project Context


4.1 The Victorian Aboriginal Community


The Victorian Aboriginal community is made up of a number of communities based on language and cultural groups, extended family networks or clans, and Aboriginal people from other States and Territories.


Aboriginal people make up about 0.5 per cent of Victoria's total population. Fifty per cent of the Aboriginal population live outside the metropolitan area compared with 28 per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.


The Victorian Aboriginal population is younger, has far fewer people aged over 65 years, and has a life expectancy still 10-15 years less than that of the non-Aboriginal population. In 1994, the unemployment rate of Aboriginal people was 38 per cent, and over half the population relied on government payments as their main source of income.


Aboriginal people are underrepresented among clients of health services that rely on people to refer themselves (such as preventative health and preschool services), and overrepresented among clients of services that are used as a result of government intervention (such as juvenile justice and the protection and care of children).


Ways Forward, The National Consultancy Report on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health (Swan and Raphael 1995) reported:

Mental health problems were a major difficulty for most communities and that there were few mental health resources available to deal with them. While data was generally inadequate, available evidence of a systematic kind indicated that Aboriginal people suffered mental health problems such as depression at a very high rate compared to non-Aboriginal people, that rates of self harm and suicide are higher, and that substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and disadvantage contribute additional risk factors. Trauma and grief were seen as overwhelming problems, both related to past history of loss and traumatisation and current frequent losses with excess mortality in family and kinship networks.



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