Adam Goodes and the Health of a Nation

Melissa Chow on the wounds we won’t let heal.

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes is vilified because he reminds Australia of how far we’ve come—that being, nowhere fast if we look at the health of the Indigenous. Yes, yes I’m sure we’ve heard enough about Goodsies and his alleged faux pas of late but let us revisit last week’s prime example of humanity on the internet.

“I am not racist but i doubt there is a more sooking, whinging race in the world than the aboriginals. If anyone has a right to sook its the Jews, the Negros etc but why should white ppl continue to be labelled as racist because our country was settled by our 240yr old ancestors”

Sure, ‘Whinging Police’, that is very true. However I fail to see how some white people have changed from the 240 year old ancestors. In fact I am sorry to say you very much represent the typical ignorant individual that has no idea how the early settlers treated the Indigenous in the very same way “the Jews or the Negros etc” were, perhaps even worse when they were considered as simply part of the fauna of Australia in the law and not even human.

The early days saw Europeans bringing with them smallpox, scarlet fever, the common cold, tuberculosis and much more that would essentially decimate tribes and clans in addition to violent massacres. Here was a paradise, literally untouched by any old world disease, nothing people couldn’t handle on their own before settlers and their cattle came and defecated on everything and anything. These would set in place the great chasm of health disparities between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous that have lasted till now the UN rates the quality of life for our Indigenous population as the second worst in the world. Yeah, the world.

Before early settlers began to colonise land and push the Indigenous off their native holds, they lived in a food-rich environment that was key to their traditional medicines and nutrition. Without us, they would not have lost many of their traditions and cultural secrets. Without us, their local waterholes would not have been poisoned by sewage. Without us, they would not have been starved of their staples.

And we see the effect today with Indigenous Australians 70% more likely than other Australians to be hospitalised for cardiovascular diseases, with metabolic and nutritional disorders 6 to 7 times more likely to be a cause of death compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts.

The Australian Indigenous are viewed internationally as an anomaly because despite living in a developed country, their health and welfare resembles a third world nation. Diseases such as simple ear infections or scabies that are rarely seen in the Australian population (and when they are are only small annoyances) are common place in Indigenous communities and become fatal because of poor public health.

We would do well to recognise people like Adam Goodes have every right to raise their voice, to feel disrespected and to drag their concerns from out of the shadows because nothing has changed much. Whether it is or isn’t about Adam Goodes’ actions, or if this is racist or not, what he has done is unveil Australia’s dismissal of the history it stands on and their complicit role in Indigenous health. Soil bloodied by the lives of an ancient culture and actions though done in the past have made gaping wounds in the health of Indigenous Australians we struggle to sew together.

Now excuse me while I purge myself of the intolerant fools on the internet after trawling through endless not racist-racist comments.