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What Health Services within Rural Communities Tell Us about Aboriginal People and Aboriginal Health

  • Year: 2010
  • Author: Fredericks, Bronwyn
  • Journal Name: Rural Society
  • Journal Number: Vol. 20, No. 1
  • Country: Australia

There is a growing body of literature within social and cultural geography that explores notions of place, space, culture, race and identity. When health services in rural communities are explored using these notions, it can lead to multiple ways of understanding the cultural meanings inscribed within health services and how they can be embedded with an array of politics. For example, health services can often reflect the symbolic place that each individual holds within that rural community. Through the use of a rural health service case study, this paper will demonstrate how the physical sites and appearances of health services can act as social texts that convey messages of belonging and welcome, or exclusion and domination. They can also produce and reproduce power and control relations. In this way, they can influence the ways that Aboriginal people engage in health service environments - either as places where Aboriginal people feel welcome, comfortable, secure and culturally safe and happy to use the health service, or as places where they utilise the service provided with a great deal of effort, angst and energy. It is important to understand how these complex notions play out in rural communities if the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people is going to be addressed.

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