Engaging Indigenous students through school-based health education

Public health Education School curriculum Medicine Schools Indigenous health Schools Australia

Health education strategies and practices are critical to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians. The Australian Government has recognised the health-promoting potential of schools through its advocacy of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Health Promoting Schools framework (NHMRC 1996). This framework uses a whole-of-school approach to school-based health initiatives. Schools are ideal for health promotion activities because of their close and regular student-teacher contact; coverage of formative years; sustained and reinforced program delivery; and the capacity to capture all children, irrespective of socioeconomic status, ethnicity or location.

The health-promoting potential of education strategies and practices features prominently in the targets of the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap strategy. They also underpin the building blocks of health, schooling, early childhood and safe communities. Current Indigenous health statistics demonstrate a need for education, schools and schooling to be an effective strategy through which Indigenous health disparities can be addressed.

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