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Research shows the Northern Territory spends over $6000 on health for each indigenous person, compared with less than $2000 for each non-indigenous citizen.

This suggests two things.

First, Australian governments do take indigenous health seriously.

Second, spending more and more money on hospitals and clinics is not a solution.

Most of the health problems faced by aboriginal australians are a result of lifestyle choices – excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, poor hygiene.

So what are governments supposed to do?

Allowing people to make those choices leads to massive expenditure on health issues, and still leaves problems which we are told are a national disgrace.

Forcing people to drink less, to eat sensibly, to wash their clothes, change their bedding, etc, is not permissible. That would be racist and paternalistic.

But it is one thing for people to refuse to take responsibilty for their own welfare. It is another when they refuse to take responsibilty for that of their children.

I am not not sure how a government can act responsiblly in that situation without appearing authoritarian.

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