About Us

Health, Well-being & Indigenous Health

Defin­ing Health & Well-being 

The World Health Organ­i­sa­tion (WHO) def­i­n­i­tion of health sug­gests that health is a con­tin­u­um and extends the notion of health to include states of pos­i­tive well-being. Health is a state of com­plete phys­i­cal, men­tal and social well-being and not mere­ly the absence of dis­ease or infirmity.” 

Indige­nous Health 

Through­out their lives, many Indige­nous peo­ple suf­fer from major health prob­lems because of poor nutri­tion. At birth Indige­nous babies are gen­er­al­ly much lighter than non-Indige­nous babies. 

After birth, most Indige­nous babies grow well until they can no longer sur­vive on breast milk alone. At this time, they need some sol­id food as well. Some­times what they are giv­en is not enough or not healthy, or per­haps is con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed if they live in areas where there is inad­e­quate hous­ing, no sew­er­age, or no fresh water and at this time the chil­dren are at risk of catch­ing infec­tions. This can devel­op into a vicious cycle: the chil­dren are under­nour­ished so their bod­ies can­not fight the infec­tions, so they get sick, and when they are sick they are at risk of get­ting more infec­tions because the food they eat is not mak­ing them strong enough to fight the infec­tions. All this can pre­vent them from grow­ing as big and strong as they could have been. This in turn can mean that moth­ers are not as strong and healthy as they could be, and this will have a bad effect on their babies. 

From the time they become young adults, many Indige­nous peo­ple start to gain a lot of weight, even­tu­al­ly becom­ing over­weight or obese. Being over­weight or obese is linked to many chron­ic dis­eases, espe­cial­ly car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and diabetes. 

The main rea­son for these prob­lems of growth and nutri­tion is the social dis­ad­van­tage many Indige­nous peo­ple expe­ri­ence, name­ly low lev­els of edu­ca­tion, high lev­els of unem­ploy­ment, low incomes, and an unsat­is­fac­to­ry environment. 

Two of the tar­gets for clos­ing the gap’ between the health of Indige­nous and non-Indige­nous Aus­tralians — to increase Indige­nous life expectan­cy and to reduce child and infant mor­tal­i­ty — are relat­ed to nutri­tion and diet. How­ev­er, improve­ments in nutri­tion will need to be accom­pa­nied by improve­ments in social disadvantage. 

As stat­ed in our mis­sion pol­i­cy, MWRSCAC strives to pro­vide a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of qual­i­ty nutri­tion, health, and well-being strate­gies to con­tin­u­ous­ly pro­mote the ben­e­fits of healthy liv­ing to the Indige­nous peo­ple we serve.