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Can Public Health Legislation Improve Health in Remote Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory?

Gray, Natalie and Bailie, Ross S. (2006). Can Public Health Legislation Improve Health in Remote Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory?. Environmental Health: The Journal of the Australian Institute of Environmental Health,6(1):31-42.

Document type: Journal Article
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IRMA ID 10005xPUB55
Title Can Public Health Legislation Improve Health in Remote Aboriginal Communities in the Northern Territory?
Author Gray, Natalie
Bailie, Ross S.
Journal Name Environmental Health: The Journal of the Australian Institute of Environmental Health
Publication Date 2006
Volume Number 6
Issue Number 1
ISSN 1832-3367   (check CDU catalogue  open catalogue search in new window)
Start Page 31
End Page 42
Total Pages 12
Place of Publication Australia
Publisher Environmental Health Australia, Inc
Field of Research 0502 - Environmental Science and Management
0699 - Other Biological Sciences
1199 - Other Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract The potential for public health legislation to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians has been the focus of recent interest in Australia. This paper examines the Northern Territory's package of public health legislation in an attempt to assess its current and potential impact on health and to identify barriers to its ability to achieve better health for Indigenous people living in remote communities. It is argued that the current legislation in the Northern Territory has little or no practical application in health improvement. This is primarily due to the fact that its directive and regulatory approach is unsuited to dictating the social and environmental conditions that would lead to health improvements in Indigenous communities, or to generating the social change that would be required to initiate these improved living conditions. Proposed technical amendments to the legislation are thus unlikely to alter this lack of effect. Public health legislation does, however, have symbolic value and ensures that the health of Indigenous Australians remains on the political agenda. It may be that a more appropriate role for public health law in this context would be as an educative and non-directive structure, which aims to promote and protect health by supporting the attempts of Indigenous Australians to achieve reconciliation and selfdetermination.
Keywords Public health
Legislation
Indigenous Australians
Remote communities
Northern Territory
Environmental health
Additional Notes This article has been extracted from Environmental Health: The Journal of the Australian Institute of Environmental Health, Vol.6, No.1, 2006.
Description for Link Link to published version
URL http://www.eh.org.au/documents/item/87


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