tip off

Stale data: update needed on indigenous health

Crikey readers have their say.

Indigenous health coverage

Nicky Friedman, head of Pro Bono & Community Programs at Allens, writes: Re. “‘Casual indifference’: why does media ignore indigenous health?” (yesterday). It’s well worthwhile highlighting the lack of media interest in Aboriginal health but doing so with data no more recent than 2007 is not compelling. Although the situation may not have changed much since that time, the information is just too old to make a convincing case.

The past few years have seen the Closing the Gap strategies and increased focus on both the intervention and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment strategies. While I am well aware that all of these programs have had flaws and limitations, I think it’s likely that media focus on some aspects of the experience of Australia’s first peoples has increased. If not, that is an interesting point to be made but with such old data, the issue cannot be adequately explored.

I was disappointed by this ineffective coverage of the issue.

Keith Thomas writes: May I suggest two reasons? First, the media tend to give a low prominence to long-term issues that affect a minority unless they play through directly to majority interests or fears. Secondly, because it is a difficult issue to address directly — as exemplified in this article. That is, it’s about indigenous illness and premature death (morbidity and mortality), it’s not about health. We have “health” services and departments of “health”, but these are really about injury and illness and the money that pays for the people who treat them and the infrastructure and interest groups who support those people.

This is not specifically an indigenous issue, but it illustrates the rose-coloured glasses we feel obliged to use when looking at this problem. The media have shirked the challenge of describing for us the causes of high indigenous morbidity and mortality without opening the debate to a knee-jerk of blaming the victim.

Climate talks

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Doha(rd) 2012: in an aircon-loving state, more climate delay” (yesterday). Giles Parkinson paints a very pessimistic picture of the Doha climate talks and the lack of results they will produce, remarking that “the US is hamstrung by a hostile Congress, Europe is hobbled by an indolent Poland, China and India are not prepared to make any bold moves until the developed world has acted on its ‘historic’ responsibility, and nations such as Russia, Canada and New Zealand have simply opted out of the process.”

Still, there are reasons to be positive: Australia has a whopping carbon tax designed to knock the stuffing out of our CO2-producing industries and the 0.75 degree warming trend the world has experienced since 1850 shows no sign of acceleration, despite record human CO2 emissions.

So yes, maybe the Bolivian candidate Rene Orellana is correct in saying “we’re fried”, but only if he’s referring to Australian industry under the carbon tax rather than the planet’s temperature.

Journo gong fest

Chris O’Mara writes: Re. “Walkleys: journalism’s ‘extraordinarily dull’ night of nights” (yesterday). Watching the Walkleys (well, as much as I could before boredom set in) makes one realise that most journos make lousy television presenters. This wasn’t helped by the appalling lighting and audio as well.

Next year can a professional presentation be offered to the public?

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    Andrew Dolt
    Posted Friday, 7 December 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Tamas Calderwood looks quite young - he’s going to have sooo much time to contemplate how wrong he was and what an awful world he’s helped create by blocking action on climate change every chance he got. Enjoy, Tamas, you so deserve it. It’s just a pity you’re taking so many other people and species with you.

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