rss
J Med Ethics 30:570-575 doi:10.1136/jme.2002.001529
  • Teaching and learning ethics

Is there an Aboriginal bioethic?

  1. G Garvey1,
  2. P Towney2,
  3. J R McPhee3,
  4. M Little4,
  5. I H Kerridge4
  1. 1Indigenous Health and Education, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  2. 2Maitland Hospital, Maitland, NSW, Australia
  3. 3Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  4. 4Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 J R McPhee
 Clinical Unit in Ethics and Health Law, School of Medical Practice and Population Health, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, David Maddison Building, Royal Newcastle Hospital, Newcastle NSW 2300, Australia; jmcpheeehlc.net
  • Received 25 August 2002
  • Accepted 4 May 2003
  • Revised 19 March 2003

Abstract

It is well recognised that medicine manifests social and cultural values and that the institution of healthcare cannot be structurally disengaged from the sociopolitical processes that create such values. As with many other indigenous peoples, Aboriginal Australians have a lower heath status than the rest of the community and frequently experience the effects of prejudice and racism in many aspects of their lives. In this paper the authors highlight values and ethical convictions that may be held by Aboriginal peoples in order to explore how health practitioners can engage Aboriginal patients in a manner that is more appropriate. In doing so the authors consider how the ethics, values, and beliefs of the dominant white Australian culture have framed the treatment and delivery of services that Aboriginal people receive, and whether sufficient effort has been made to understand or acknowledge the different ethical predispositions that form the traditions and identity of Aboriginal Australia(ns).

Footnotes

  • * ”Exempla” is the plural of “exemplum”, which is a brief story used to make a point in an argument or to illustrate a moral truth to educate the young and preserve tribal traditions. The life stories of individuals and the narratives of Aboriginal communities also contain a common “metanarrative” which is the experience of colonisation, dispossession, and discrimination. Susan’s story is reflective of one such Aboriginal narrative.