Following on from earlier posts about the Inside Story article on reporting of Aboriginal health, journalist Jeff McMullen comments:
“In Canberra last night (while giving a short speech and making some remarks at Universities Australia inaugural awards for reporting higher education issues) I had a great talk with Richard Larkins and many outstanding VC’s about some of the same issues you have looked at about media.
In fact, in my speech I noted that “if we are to all be part of a genuine education revolution, the media needs to rise above its lazy addiction to adversarial journalism, the tendency to present all issues in terms of social conflict, class warfare or the dreaded cultural wars”. My argument is that higher education and health are matters of the common good, and journalism needs to find a new quality of analysis and a far more positive style of presenting issues.
Some story ideas :
– Instead of focussing almost exclusively on sickness, journalists should be investigating why it is so difficult to improve primary health care and successful preventative programs to deal with the chronic illness epidemic.
– Investigating examples overseas where health disasters and even crashes in life expectancy have been reversed successfully, drawing out the lessons for Australia and in particular for Indigenous communities.
– There are many good stories in how Aboriginal communities have developed their own solutions to their health problems, such as healthy eating programs for children, incentives for children to play sport, avoid smoking and clever health prmotion campaigns around drinking and smoking.
– Aboriginal festivals like Walking with Spirits at Beswick Falls, near Katherine NT, are alcohol free celebrations of community well being and these are tremendously beneficial to the health of children.
– Exchanges between surf life saving clubs and remote communities (eg North Palm Beach Surf Club and the Jawoyn communities in the NT) improve the health and fitness of young Aboriginal people and open up the experience of discovering Aboriginal community life for the young urban lifesavers.
Wellness, not sickness, that should be our emphasis. Or you will continue with a media obsession with the body count !”