Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is much lower than non-Indigenous Australians across all age groups. The way Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians view health and wellbeing differs. With Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders having a more holistic view of health. A holistic view values the physical, social, emotional and cultural wellbeing of individuals and communities, with strong connections between individuals and land, culture, spirituality, ancestry, family and community. A strong connection to land, sea and family is integral to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life and culture. Cultural diversity amongst communities is defined by geographic location, environment and resources.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander alcohol usediverse communities ATSI

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are more likely to abstain from consuming alcohol than non-Indigenous people. The difference in abstinence is mostly due to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who used to drink and have given up. Rates of risky consumption of alcohol and related harms among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are generally twice those of the non-Indigenous population. Alcohol and other drug use amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is a complex issue surrounding culture, attitudes, assumptions, disadvantage, socio-economic factors, education, employment and inequity. (Source: Social Health Reference Group for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council and National Mental Health Working Group 2004, p6)
What works? 

In the past, a whole range of strategies and programs have been implemented in the attempt to reduce the rates of harmful alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Many of these services have had limited effect. Health and wellbeing, grassroots Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led programs have achieved success. Success has come through collaboration and by recognising and incorporating culturally appropriate values and underlying social factors. The Commonwealth Government Close the Gap, Reducing alcohol and other drug related harm information offers information on examples and information on successful strategies.
Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are increasingly voicing the need for greater community consultation and community lead projects. This approach will empower communities to take greater control of any identified alcohol problems. Contact with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services is a must before considering working in this area. A list of services can be found on the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council website. The Australian Psychological Society website offers information and ways for services to meet the social and emotional wellbeing, and mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. The Guiding Principles outline the holistic view of health held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Our sources

Information in this section has been drawn from the following sources: