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Using Indigenous Australian drama to break cultural barriers in healthcare relationships
  1. K Matharu
  1. Mr K Matharu, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, 610 N Street, Sacramento, California 95814, USA; ksmatharu{at}


Since colonisation, the marginalisation of Indigenous Australians has adversely affected their language, culture and health. Mainstream society has failed to address social differences and establish culturally-appropriate health programmes for these groups. This paper extracts important humanistic themes within the context of health from four Indigenous Australian plays written during a period of social unrest in response to past oppression: (1) The dreamers, by Jack David; (2) Murras, by Eva Johnson; (3) Coordah, by Richard Walley; and (4) The keepers, by Bob Maza. These plays will be analysed to (a) illuminate human suffering from an indigenous perspective, based upon social and cultural planes of analysis; (b) understand the socio-cultural basis of poor health; and (c) instruct healthcare professionals that health is a social construct that can be interpreted as the product of select plays that are not solely based upon an illness narrative.

  • indigenous Australia
  • minority health
  • cross-cultural understanding
  • theater

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  • Competing interests: None.