Social and Cultural Determinants of Indigenous Health

Closed 5 May 2017

Opened 8 Mar 2017


The Department of Health is inviting submissions from organisations and individuals on the social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Health outcomes for individuals are the result of a complex interaction between biological factors and the social and cultural circumstances which shape people's lives. These operate as both barriers and enablers to health and social and emotional wellbeing.

Between one-third and one-half of the health gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people is attributable to differences in social determinants of health (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2014). This means that much of the work to improve health inequities and inequalities lies beyond the health sector.

These determinants include (but are not limited to):

  • Connection to family, community, country, language and culture
  • Racism
  • Early childhood development, education and youth
  • Employment and income
  • Housing, environment and infrastructure
  • Interaction with government systems and services
  • Law and justice
  • Health choices
  • Food security

We are seeking submissions from organisations or individuals who will be able to comment on one or more of the social and cultural determinants listed above. The main questions asked through the online submission process are:

  1. Experiences, ideas and evidence (on each of these determinants). Please tell us your story.
  2. What are your key recommendation(s)? What needs to happen?
  3. References: If there is a published paper, a website, a trial or an evaluation that shows the impacts of your recommendation(s), please enter this information.

Why your views matter

Improvements have been gained in Indigenous health, but we are not closing the gap – it is time to turn attention beyond health determinants as we take the next step on our journey.  Improving the health care system to provide adequate care when people are unwell is critical, but does little to prevent them from becoming unwell in the first place. Major causes of death and disease, such as heart disease, diabetes or cancer have their origins in the early years of life, in ongoing and cumulative social and cultural stressors. The links to social causes are even clearer when looking at premature death due to injury, poisoning and suicide. We could talk more about the problems, but we'd rather talk about solutions.

The feedback we receive from these online submissions will help to:

  • identify specific initiatives currently providing good outcomes for Indigenous communities and consider options for broader implementation;
  • identify priority areas for attention in addressing the social and cultural determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health;
  • identify potential opportunities and gaps in Commonwealth policy and programs aimed at reducing the disparities in health and wellbeing between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people;
  • consider options to improve levels of coordination and collaboration of existing efforts at the local, state and Commonwealth level.

This information will help us to identify initiatives that are having a positive impact and consider ways we can draw on these examples,  to improve coordination and collaboration among government and non-government agencies at the local, state/territory and Commonwealth levels.

Submissions will be considered and may be quoted or referenced as part of a blueprint on the Social and Cultural Determinants of Indigenous Health. This will feed into future iterations of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2018-2023.


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
  • Non-government organisations
  • State government agencies
  • Commonwealth agencies
  • Local governments
  • Health professionals
  • Health workforce
  • General public
  • Community groups
  • Businesses
  • Contracted Service Providers


  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health