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Racism and Indigenous wellbeing, mental health and suicide

Mandy Truong and Edward Moore


Racism and racial discrimination are key determinants of health and wellbeing. Experiences of racism and racial discrimination are common for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and are associated with negative impacts on mental health and on social and emotional wellbeing. Racism towards Indigenous Australians has been reported across a variety of health-service settings and leads to psychological distress, disengagement with health services and not seeking care when needed.

The development and implementation of well-designed cultural safety programs across the health system is critical to providing a safe environment, free of racism, for Indigenous Australians. However, robust evidence on best approaches to cultural safety programs, and on initiatives that reduce the impacts of racism on healthcare provision, is lacking.

In the context of mental health, this article provides an overview of how racism affects Indigenous Australians, their access to care and the policies and programs that address cultural safety in the health system.