Saturday, December 5, 2009

No running water major health issue for Indigenous Australians

Written by Minelle Creed

A lack of running water is a major health issue for Aboriginal people in remote communities in Australia. According to Ray Martin, around 350 Aboriginal communities in Australia still don't have access to running water

Martin, a former television journalist and now chairman of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation, says a lack of basic running water has contributed to and is still a leading cause of chronic health conditions for Aboriginal people living in remote communities.

A descendant of the Gamilaroi people from northern New South Wales, Martin says that most of the Aboriginal people living in these remote communities are living in third world conditions.

He traveled with the late Professor Fred Hollows, Ophthalmologist who treated Indigenous people around the world and in Australia with chronic eye conditions such as trachoma and blindness.

Professor Hollows began working with Aboriginal communities in the 1970's, and helped to establish the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, as well as other Medical services around Australia. He also founded the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program, which was set up to eliminate trachoma, and other eye conditions in rural and remote communities in Australia.

Martin who traveled with Professor Hollows many years ago to some remote Indigenous communities, said these conditions still affect Aboriginal communities and ' is still about 5 times the rate of white Australians, but its unforgivable, unacceptable. Most problems in Aboriginal Australia is a matter of hygiene'. Having access to running water is not only a problem in third world countries, but it also exists in Australia's desert and remote areas.

Martin is currently touring Australia after the release of his Autobiography, Ray: Stories of my Life.

Interview with Mark Graham, November 2009

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