UNDRIP is a key part of this toolkit as it forms the foundation for the ‘rights-based’ approach that is essential in supporting culturally-responsive palliative care. It is important for health professionals to understand the rights that Australian Indigenous peoples have with respect to health and end-of-life care, and how colonisation has undermined these rights.
With regard to health and healthcare, UNDRIP includes the following rights for Indigenous peoples:
- An equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
- The right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, judicial systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards
- The right to traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals
- The right to access, without any discrimination, all social and health services.1
UNDRIP establishes a framework for addressing the health and wellbeing of Indigenous peoples that includes the obligation of UN member states both to provide accessible, quality healthcare to Indigenous peoples, and to respect and promote Indigenous health systems, each of which must be fulfilled in order to ensure the health of Indigenous peoples.1
The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 outlines the commitment of all Australian health practitioners regulated under the National Scheme to provide culturally-safe care for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander individuals, families and communities. Statements within this document underscore the commitment of the regulating bodies to ensure delivery of safe, accessible and responsive healthcare for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people that is free of racism.2
Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) is the peak national body representing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander allied health workforce. IAHA has published a policy position statement outlining their commitment to the rights of Australian Indigenous peoples to access allied health services that are available, affordable, acceptable and appropriate. This strengths-based approach focuses on working with Australian Indigenous peoples and communities to determine and act on their allied health service needs.3
IAHA work with communities in a way that recognises their Culture, strength, resilience, knowledges and leadership to drive culturally safe and responsive solutions and strategies to improve health and wellbeing. In doing so, we support the right to self-determination. Indigenous Allied Health Australia3
- Review the UNDRIP document and note all the points that are made with regard to health and wellbeing.
- When you reflect on the statement, ‘An equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health’ (UNDRIP: Article 24), with regard to Australian Indigenous peoples, what do you envisage this to be? Make some notes about your ideas and/or discuss with a friend or colleague.
- Australian Human Rights Commission. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 2021; Available from: https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/un-declaration-rights-indigenous-peoples-1.
- AHPRA and National Boards, The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025. 2020.
- Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Policy Position Statement: A rights approach to allied health. 2019: ACT.