Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

01-Alyssa A.

Hello! My name is Alyssa and I am currently a senior at Michigan State University, I will be graduating in December with a bachelors degree in Communications and a minor in Health Promotion. I am from Bath, Michigan, a small town just outside of East Lansing. Before attending MSU I went to Lansing Community College for two years where I ran cross country and track.

I really like to travel and I have always had the desire to travel to Australia and this is the perfect opportunity. I have always been interested in health and health promotion and part of this program is focused on sustainable food.

I would like to learn more about the health of the Australian people and how their sustainable food and environmental systems play a role in their lifestyles.

1. How have the sustainable food or agriculture practices, as well as sustainable environment played a role in the health of the Australian people?
2. What can be improved to help the health of the Australian people?
3. Do people have easy access to healthy, fresh foods?

Health promotion. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2017, from

(n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2017, from

(n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2017, from

While studying in Australia I focused on the access to health care for the indigenous population. I was able to speak to a few indigenous people about their thoughts of the health care they are provided in Australia. I spoke to Fay from a language and song workshop we attended, a traditional landowner at the Ngaut Ngaut Conservation park, and the staff at the Wuchopperen Health Center nears Cairns.

While gathering information in Australia I found that cost, availability, and knowledge of the indigenous culture are important determinants of indigenous health. When talking to Fay she stressed that it is very important for health care providers to be educated on the indigenous culture because it plays a very large part in their health treatment, many indigenous individuals prefer holistic versus western medicine practices. She also mentioned how important it is to know about the indigenous diet because it is very different from the western culture who consumes more processed, fatty foods.

While speaking to our tour guide from Ngaut Ngaut I was informed of the chronic disease indigenous people suffer from mostly due to diet changes and introduction of western medicine. I learned that there are indigenous health services available but depending on the area they may be at a great distance away.

The Wuchoperren Health Center was probably my favorite educational site vist. It was so neat to have the opportunity to tour a indigenous health center and learn about the services that are funded by the Australian government that they provide to their patients. Here, I learned they use more holistic medical practices for their patients as well as provide transportation for those who cannot travel there otherwise. This community-oriented health center is a great resource for the surrounding residents.

The secondary research I found supported that cost, availability, and knowledge of the indigenous culture are important determinants of indigenous health. The indigenous population suffers from higher rates of chronic disease and they have a higher morbidity rate than non-indigenous people while about half of indigenous people had incomes in the bottom twenty percent in 2008. With a higher rate of chronic disease and lower incomes the indigenous are at a great disadvantage. Although many indigenous-specific health services are government funded there are other costs associated, like substance abuse, medication costs, and specialists.

According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare if the health care providers and/or systems are accepting of the indigenous culture this allows the patient’s culture to be maintained. Among indigenous people, seven percent of those who said they had problems accessing healthcare said the services were not culturally appropriate according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The third factor is health care availability. Many indigenous people do not live in large cities which means they have a harder time physically accessing health care. In some parts of the country this means health services are over one hour away.

I found that my secondary research in regards to indigenous access to health care compared very well to the information I gathered while in Australia. Cost, availability, and knowledge of the indigenous culture are major determinates of the indigenous population’s health. By education the public and health care providers of the indigenous culture this can inform them about their health and diet practices and how they differ from western medicine as well as inform them of the need for more affordable indigenous health centers.

Australia can move towards being more socially sustainable if the indigenous gain better access to health care. An individual’s well being is dependent on the well being of the community. If the people of that community are treated fairly and can provide and sustain for themselves without compromising the future people than social sustainability is reached.


The picture above was taken at the Ngaut Ngaut Cliff Walk and Talk with a traditional land owner!

Australia’s Health 2016. (n.d.). Retrieved July, 2017, from

Indigenous Health . (2017). Retrieved July, 2017, from

Introduction to Indigenous Australia. (2015, October). Retrieved July, 2017, from

Summary of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health . (2015). Retrieved July,
2017, from

Ware, V. (2013, December). Improving the accessibility of health services in urban and
regional settings for Indigenous people. Retrieved July, 2017, from


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