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    I love these social media campaigns. Just a distraction from actually doing something real about Indigenous health.

    This sort of twit-activism is an opiate…a way for educated elites to believe they are doing something about Indigenous health through a couple of thumbstrokes. (I retweet, so now my friends know I obviously care about Aboriginals, the poor buggers…oh, better get back to my first world problems now)

    And just how many Indigenous people are using twitter (I would say a miniscule number, and it would be mainly the young). So getting any sort of dialogue going with those who actually have some serious skin in the game is just not going to happen.

    (Ed’s note: this comment has been edited to ensure language reflects Croakey style as per these recommendations: Making Two Worlds Work; the NSW Health Department guide, Communicating Positively: A Guide to Aboriginal Terminology; and this guide from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, An introduction to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health cultural protocols and perspectives.)

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    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Actually Scott, I had a very interesting conversation recently with an Aboriginal academic who is researching social media use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and finding that it is being widely used, and in sophisticated ways to affirm identity, amongst other things. She suggested that some of the debate around the digital divide reflects the “deficit discourse” that has been so problematic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and is based in assumptions of deficit, while her work (and others) shows innovative use of such technologies. And if you actually investigated Indigenous representation on Twitter in Australia, you would find a rich and varied engagement – in the health sphere in particular.

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    I’ll give you facebook, Melissa, which has around 95% take up by social media users of all ages, in all states and territories and in rural and metro areas.

    However twitter only has social media penetration rates of around 15% and people are dropping off. Also twitter is most popular in ACT, NSW and VIC in mainly metro areas rather than the core Aboriginal health areas of WA and NT, which have low levels of twitter users. And of twitter users, a full 25% are read only and never tweet.

    Based on my figures, I have max Indigenous twitter accounts of around 30,000, as opposed to around 180,000 facebook accounts used by Aboriginals. You tell me which social media site would be better placed to give you a more detailed conversation on Aboriginal health of all demographics.

    But people will bang on about twitter. Maybe because they believe distilling a complex health issue down to 140 characters will be a good for some positive press. Probably the same people thinking renaming the king hit will stop kids lashing out when they have had a few drinks.

    Anyway, to use the old golf analogy..Twitter for show, Facebook for dough.
    (Ed’s note:this comment has been edited as per previous comment).

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    Great to hear of this #IHMayDay initiative.
    We are trying to get a greater understanding of how Aboriginal communities in the West and the NT are using social media so it will be interesting to see what happens on May 1.

    Currently, reliable/useful information is limited so I think any innovative thinking, and public discussions/forums are a great way to move the conversation forward and understand more about the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in health and, how digital and social media are being used to contribute to the solutions.

    Unlike Scott, I see any initiatives that open up dialogue, create networks, develops ideas, etc. as a positive. Noone has found the answer to changing the inequalities in Indigenous health, education, employment and wellbeing etc. So, how can bringing together experts in their field or, people passionate about equality and Aboriginal wellbeing, to discuss these issues be a negative? Isn’t that the whole point of Twitter?

    I think Scott has missed this point…. If we use his logic… Nooone should be speaking about Aboriginal health issues on Twitter because not enough Aboriginal people with ‘some serious skin in the game’ are present…. Awkward…. 1) Sorry to all those thousands of Aboriginal people using Twitter who do have ‘skin in the game’ and, 2) Ummm, does this mean they need to stay silent until there’s a critical mass of Aboriginal people using Twitter? I don’t get it.

    Great initiative Dr Lynore Geia, I look forward to seeing how it goes.
    And thanks Melissa for your consistent time and energy on Aboriginal health issues and the role of the media in bringing about solutions.

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    lesley barclay

    Can I suggest we address the importance of ‘birthing on country’ for Aboriginal women, families and culture. A number of us are tying to address this in various ways but as a society and health service we conveniently seem to bypass the basic foundational importance of this for Aborginal Australians who still have a strong hold on their traditional culture.


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