This project sought to explore how urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel about where they live and whether they think their neighbourhood and social networks influence their health and if so, in what ways. The project was conducted in different urban locations across Adelaide and aimed to inform the development of appropriate and culturally safe policies to promote healthy neighbourhoods for Indigenous communities.
The project’s primary objectives were to:
- Improve knowledge of the underlying social and economic determinants of health for urban-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
- Foster better understanding of the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in suburban Australia, especially in regard to experiences of racism and the ways in which these experiences affect health.
- Provide knowledge to improve the quality and content of policies and programs that seek to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
- Develop the skills, knowledge and competence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.
Preliminary findings suggested that urban Indigenous people are active participants in community groups and have strong connections to family and friends, particularly other Indigenous people. They were keen to have a positive neighbourhood environment and are well integrated in their local communities. However, levels of trust in institutions and people in Australia were substantially lower among participants when compared with non-Indigenous people in a companion study. It is likely that lower levels of trust reported in this study are strongly related to the high level of racism reported by people, with 93 per cent of participants experiencing racism at least sometimes and two-thirds reporting experiencing it often.
This project was conducted by a team of Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers in Adelaide, and involved interviews with a broad spectrum of Indigenous people living in urban postcodes in and around the Port Adelaide, Burnside, Prospect, Playford and Onkaparinga areas. Interviews involved a range of questions including where people live, the sorts of activities people are involved with, the kinds of services people use and what people like and don’t like about their neighbourhood. There were also some general questions about peoples’ views on health and their experiences of racism/discrimination. All responses were tape recorded and transcribed, after which the tapes were destroyed. Comparisons were made with a larger companion study done in Adelaide, the General Location and Health Project, as well as two telephone surveys of urban South Australians conducted in 2003 and 2005. Research findings were discussed at two policy workshops held in April 2008 with discussions being incorporated into the draft research report.
- Project report: Gallaher, G., Ziersch, A., Baum, F., Bentley, M., Palmer, C., Edmondson, W. & Winslow, L. 2009, In Our Own Backyard: Urban Health Inequities and Aboriginal Experiences of Neighbourhood Life, Social Capital and Racism, Flinders University, Adelaide.