Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who experience discrimination have poorer health and wellbeing, a new study has found.
The Australian National University study analysed data from more than 8000 Indigenous Australian adults from the national Mayi Kuwayu study, collected over two years.
It is the first time researchers have proven experiencing racism was linked with poorer mental and physical health, and cultural wellbeing.
One of the authors, Associate Professor Raymond Lovett said the impacts of discrimination were profound, highlighting the depth of racism Indigenous Australians faced.
Discrimination was linked to all negative outcomes examined in the study including pain, poor life satisfaction, psychological distress, anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
The study found the prevalence of alcohol dependence increased five-fold and smoking was twice as common among people experiencing moderate to high discrimination compared to no discrimination.
Lead author Katherine Thurber said the negative health outcomes were increasingly common as the extent of discrimination increased.
"Discrimination experiences were pervasive, with almost six-in-10 participants in the study reporting having experienced discrimination in their everyday life," she said.
One out of four participants reported being treated with less respect than others and as though they weren't as smart.
Associate Professor Lovett said the impact of discrimination on cultural wellbeing was a key aspect of the study.
"We know racism is designed to disconnect people from culture ... it also makes people feel torn in society," he said.
"Racism divides us because you're not allowing people to be a certain way which is their identity, and our data shows that."
Associate Professor Lovett said the study, which looked at interpersonal experiences of racism, captured the lowest level of discrimination experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because it didn't look at systemic racism.
He said the study proved the prevalence and impact of racism in Australia, adding the nation was "way behind" in acknowledging it and working to close the gap.
"It's very hard to talk about racism in Australia," he said.
"This paper shows that clearly, it does exist. Clearly, it does have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing across a whole range of things.
"If we don't acknowledge that it is an issue, then the gaps aren't going to close."
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