13 Jul 2011 - The Warrnambool Standard
COMMON ground between south-west Indigenous communities and Israeli Jews and Palestinians will be explored through an innovative health project.
A delegation of leading Israeli and Palestinian health workers and researchers will visit the Lake Condah and Heywood region as part of a week-long Australian tour.
Organised by Global Reconciliation, a coalition based at Monash and RMIT universities, the project encourages cross-cultural dialogue around options for local involvement in health care.
Professor Paul James, from RMIT, said while there is clear differences there is also some striking parallels between Aboroginal people and those in the Middle East.
“In both, health issues are tightly bound up with culture and ethnicity, and affected by social dislocation, internal stress and a hostile external political environment,” he said.
“In both, the attachment to land and unresolved issues regarding access to and ownership of land have played a decisive role.”
After meeting in Melbourne, the three Palestinians and three Israelis will visit the south-west, Alice Springs and remote communities in Central Australia from Friday.
Professor Paul Komesaroff, from Monash, said models of community-controlled health care had been developed in Indigenous Australia, Israel and Palestine.
“Both Australia and the Middle East have been sites of innovative responses to health care needs and approaches to health care development,” he said.
“Accordingly, there is much to share and learn. In all these places, the initiatives are fragile and need supporting.”
This tour aims to establish ongoing exchanges and educational visits involving people from all three communities.
Specific projects in the fields of health, justice, education and spirituality are on the agenda.
The health of Aboriginal people is significantly worse than that of other groups in Australia.
Indigenous people have higher infant mortality rates, higher hospital admissions and high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and mental illness.