Closing the gap: the need to consider perceptions about drinking water in rural Aboriginal communities in NSW, Australia

Jaravani, Fidelis G., Massey, Peter, Judd, Jennifer, Allan, Jason, and Allan, Natalie (2016) Closing the gap: the need to consider perceptions about drinking water in rural Aboriginal communities in NSW, Australia. Public Health Research & Practice, 26 (2). e2621616 . 1 -5.

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A crucial objective of the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap program is to improve Aboriginal health, and to achieve morbidity and mortality rates similar to those for non-Indigenous Australians. Reducing public health risks due to drinking water of unknown quality will help to close the gap.

Factors such as hardness, taste, colour and odour of water may influence perceptions of risk and quality. Increased contact and familiarity with a hazard is associated with individuals becoming desensitised and habituated to its presence, so that their risk judgements may reflect their behavioural experiences. Consumption of water of unknown quality, such as rainwater, instead of treated town water in Australian Aboriginal communities may be a community norm, a part of a community’s culture or a result of lack of trust in government water suppliers.

Partnerships between service providers and communities can ensure that the service is responsive to community needs, is conducted in a culturally appropriate manner and is beneficial to the community. Governance of drinking water in Aboriginal communities cannot be comprehensive without active engagement of the communities involved, and greater understanding of cultural issues, perceptions and behaviours towards drinking water quality. This Perspective article reviews the literature to shed light on the need to consider New South Wales (NSW) Aboriginal perceptions about drinking water and its acceptability. We urge more dialogue and research, and a policy focus that includes partnerships with discrete NSW Aboriginal communities to develop a deeper understanding of perceptions of drinking water and encourage consumption of safe water.

Item ID: 47538
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2204-2091
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© 2016 Jaravani et al. This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence, which allows others to redistribute, adapt and share this work non-commercially provided they attribute the work and any adapted version of it is distributed under the same Creative Commons licence terms. See:

Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2017 00:02
FoR Codes: 45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4504 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing > 450417 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander public health and wellbeing @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9203 Indigenous Health > 920301 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health - Determinants of Health @ 100%
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