Having once worked in an outback Aboriginal community and for Médecins Sans Frontières, I read with interest Kim Mahood’s article (August) on Emma Kowal’s book Trapped in the Gap. I would point out that there is nothing “cultural” in Aboriginal societies about grog, tobacco, white bread, soda pop, and sugary and fatty foods (or, for that matter, domestic violence and child sexual abuse). The traditional hunter-gatherer diet is healthy and requires regular exercise. You could also argue that smoking was “cultural” in many Western societies in the mid 20th century and drinking alcohol remains so. The argument that for health professionals to encourage Aborigines to quit or reduce these activities in order to improve their (and family and community) health is imposing “white values” on them is nonsense.
Dr Ric Sandblom
Kangaroo Valley, NSW