Frequently asked questions on My Life My Lead

Page last updated: 21 December 2017

What are the My Life My Lead consultations and the My Life My Lead report?
Why is it important to focus on social and cultural determinants of health?
What are the social determinants of health?
What is meant by the cultural determinants of health?
Who participated in the My Life My Lead consultations?
How does the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23 and the Implementation Plan relate to the work underway to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda?
Why is the Department developing a new Implementation Plan?
How can I find out what was said at the consultations?
Where can I access My Life My Lead?

Q. What are the My Life My Lead consultations and the My Life My Lead report?
A. Between March and May 2017, the Department of Health, in conjunction with the Advisory Group on the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, led an extensive consultation process (My Life My Lead) across Australia to listen to people share their stories and experiences. This is part of the ongoing commitment under the Implementation Plan to consider the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health. Further information on the consultations.

The consultations examined the integral and supportive role culture plays, and analysed how social factors such as education, employment, justice, income and housing impact at each stage of life, on a person’s health and wellbeing.

The learnings from My Life My Lead are summarised in this Report and will guide the ongoing development, implementation and delivery of future policy and programs. They will inform ongoing consultations on the ‘Closing the Gap’ refresh, and inform the next iteration of the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, due to be released in late 2018.

Q. Why is it important to focus on social and cultural determinants of health?
A. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework Report 2017 indicates that at least 34.4 per cent of the health gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is linked to social determinants. This rises to 53.2 per cent when combined with behavioural risk factors.

Indigenous health equity is a shared responsibility and requires the engagement of all sectors of government, of all segments of society, and of all members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Social and cultural determinants, which are by definition outside the direct influence of health systems, can account for between one third and one half of the life expectancy gap. It is recognised that more is needed to be done to accelerate progress in addressing the unequal distribution of resources that have a damaging impact on health outcomes.

Q. What are the social determinants of health?
A. Health inequities that arise from societal conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, are referred to as the social determinants of health. The social determinants of health contribute to at least 34 per cent of the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23 and its Implementation Plan recognise the importance of addressing social determinants of health to improve health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Q. What is meant by the cultural determinants of health?
A. The cultural determinants of health encompass the cultural factors that promote resilience, foster a sense of identity and support good mental and physical health and wellbeing for individuals, families and communities. While the cultural determinants of health is a less understood concept compared to the social determinants of health, there is strong evidence emerging around the various ways that culture can support better health outcomes.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the oldest living cultures in the world, which exemplify the dynamic and adaptive nature of these cultures. Cultural determinants are enabled, supported and protected through traditional cultural practice, kinship, connection to land and Country, art, song and ceremony, dance, healing, spirituality, empowerment, ancestry, belonging and self-determination.

Q. Who participated in the My Life My Lead consultations?
A. Around 600 participants attended one of the 13 forums held across Australia. The dates and locations of the forums are available on the Department of Health website.

Over 100 submissions were received from organisations and individuals. A list of the organisations that consented to their names being published is available.

Q. How does the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23 and the Implementation Plan relate to the work underway to refresh the Closing the Gap agenda?
A. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-23 and its Implementation Plan were developed as the road map to achieve the 2008 Closing the Gap health targets. Improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is core to the Closing the Gap agenda.

Q. Why is the Department developing a new Implementation Plan?
A. While improvements have been made in Indigenous health over the course of the current Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023, the momentum needs to be maintained. New priorities and actions must be identified and attention needs to expand to include the impacts of the social determinants and cultural determinants of health.

The My Life My Lead consultations considered the social determinants and cultural determinants of Indigenous health by examining the integral and supportive role culture plays, and by addressing how social factors such as education, employment, justice, income and housing impact at each stage of life, on a person’s health and wellbeing.

Q. How can I find out what was said at the consultations?
A. Detailed summaries of forums held as part of the My Life My Lead consultations are available.

Q. Where can I access My Life My Lead?
A. The website to access the My Life My Lead report is: www.health.gov.au/MyLifeMyLead.

For further information please email mylifemylead@health.gov.au