There are so many reasons that people working in the health sector should consider supporting the @IndigenousXLtd crowdfunding campaign, according to Dr Tim Senior, a GP who works in Aboriginal health.
Dr Tim Senior writes:
What would you say if your local hospital handed out cigarettes to every other person presenting at the emergency department? I suspect there would be uproar.
What, though, if instead of cigarettes, one in two people were given a racist interaction?
That’s the experience for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our health system, according to a survey from the National Congress of Australia’s First peoples (Powerpoint file). There is clear evidence that this worsens their health.
We should be doing all we can, both as health professionals, and as organisations, to make health facilities racism-free environments, in the same way they are smoke-free environments.
Here are seven reasons why you should support them.
1. Hear the whole variety of Indigenous experiences
If you’ve not come across @IndigenousX before, it’s a pretty vital part of the Australian Twitter experience. Each week, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person holds the reins and takes us through whatever parts of life they get passionate about.
In health, we often think statistics tell us about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, and think that it’s all about diabetes, renal disease, otitis media and drug and alcohol. We can stereotype Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people only as patients, with complex health and social problems.
Hearing individual stories goes a long way to get over stereotypes. If you’re regularly having dinner with Aboriginal friends, joking with Torres Strait Islander colleagues in the workplace, perhaps you know this already.
You’d better make sure you’re listening properly!
2. Have proper conversations.
The other side of the coin of listening to a wide variety of experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is that social media allows conversations. You’ll get to have a chat about ways of decolonising a health system. It’s very easy to discover what people like Andrew Bolt or Gary Johns (no, I’m not linking to them) think should happen in Indigenous affairs. You’ll even get to hear what John Pilger thinks, who has at least spoken to Aboriginal people, but it’s still his voice you’re hearing.
There’s a whole discussion going on about constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at the moment. I do support recognition (and there are health reasons for supporting it) but you won’t hear any of it if you’re not following @IndigenousX and the associated community.
3. It’s successful
@IndigenousX is on its way to global domination, spreading from Australia to Canada, with the creation of the @IndigenousXCa account. It’s inspired other rotation curation accounts, supported and promoted countless campaigns and raised over $150,000 for other organisations. It successfully had Google remove “Aboriginal jokes” from their search options. It has a regular column in the Guardian. Luke Pearson, the tireless founder, turns up in your radio and a TedX talk.
4. Bypass mainstream media
Which brings us on to mainstream media coverage of Indigenous affairs. The news and commentary that makes it onto newspapers pages and TV screens is often based on an image of us “normal” Australians, and “them” Aboriginal people with something wrong, told by benevolent, shocked white reporters. (Of course, there are honourable exceptions.)
Social media allows another message, one told by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people themselves, unfiltered by traditional media. that comes from a position of strength, and IndigenousX can take the internet by storm if given support.
5. Evidence shows that interventions need to be led by Indigenous people if they are to work.
As a good health professional, you’re all asking for some evidence about this point. Well, I have no direct evidence that supporting IndigenousX will improve health outcomes. But we know that racism and exclusion are major contributors to ill-health, and that this sort of engagement is crucial if health practitioners are to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And there is plenty of evidence that the only way to achieve success in any intervention to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is for it to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
To be honest, we’ve tried exclusion and paternalism for over 200 years now and it hasn’t got us very far. We all need to create a society where we encourage those who are excluded to give their views and create a safe space for them to do so. Supporting IndigenousX allows you to join in this grand project.
6. Take a political stand against non-Indigenous people deciding what is needed.
We keep coming up with the same old solutions like moving people off traditional lands, sending in the army, compulsory welfare cards, removing children. They didn’t work the first time and still don’t work now.
It’s way beyond time to try a different way.
7. Crowdfunding is cool
You’ll know I like Crowdfunding. It has the potential to bypass traditional funding models of government funding, philanthropic grants or bank loans. With the Indigenous Advancement Strategy being mired in controversy and giving money to non-Indigenous sporting organisations and government departments, crowdfunding is a way of succeeding more independently than this.
More than just funding, it allows a community of committed people and organisations to gather around a project. This is especially important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and organisations. IndigenousX has supported many of these on Start some Good, with recent successes being as diverse as paying The Koori Woman for brilliant writing, the Culture is Life’s Elders Report into Indigenous Self Harm & Youth Suicide. Dameyon Bonson’s BlackRainbow foundation campaign and the AHED Hope for Health campaign on Elcho Island. There’s also the JustJustice project on Indigenous incarceration up and running, which also benefitted from the support of Luke Pearson!
It’s a small, successful crowdfunding world! Besides, you could get some cool gifts, or some exclusive training for your organisation.
And the other 180 reasons?
That’s the 180-plus people who’ve already hosted the @IndigenousX account in Australia, who have helped nearly 22,000 followers learn so much about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues in this country.
* And listen to Luke Pearson speaking with Nakkiah Lui on ABC Radio.