Living conditions – below par!

A remote nursing experience in the NT Australia (part 4)

Unfortunately one of the immediate tragedies to greet unsuspecting visitors in a remote aboriginal community is the standard of living – in particular the housing.

Being used to the middle class areas of cities and suburbia it is extremely confronting and disturbing to see families living in broken down dwellings with broken fixtures, windows, walls, ceilings etc. To add to this the filth and untidiness in many homes is hard to come to terms with.

From a health point of view the impact is significant. The inumerable cases of diarrhoea and skin infections, particularly in children a clear case in point. Who knows how many other conditions could be included here. When you have 920 clinic presentations in one month in a community of 1,000 – 1,100 it is indicative of some serious problems.

(Imagine in a city like Sydney or New York if 90% of the population needed health care interventions every month!!)

The problem is of course exacerbated by lack of appropriate housing and overcrowding. Health education and understanding also a significant issue. Not to mention of course adequate government funding and proper use of such funds!

I would like to think that since my experience in the late 80’s & early 90’s that circumstances have improved! Unfortunately research seems to indicate otherwise.

Bob Goodwin –


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