Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 609–615

Unequal Treatment: The Possibilities of and Need for Indigenous Parrhesiastes in Australian Medical Education

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10903-010-9352-6

Cite this article as:
Ewen, S.C. J Immigrant Minority Health (2011) 13: 609. doi:10.1007/s10903-010-9352-6


This paper investigates the relationship between the unacceptably poor levels of Indigenous health in Australia, the very low levels of representation (As at 2009, approximately 140 Indigenous medical graduates Australia wide) of Indigenous people within the medical field, and the potential for parrhesia (translated as “fearless speech”) to challenge the medical hegemony, and as a tool of self-care for Indigenous medical students. This paper outlines the elements that make up parrhesia, the current state of Australian Indigenous (ill) health and Indigenous participation in the Australian health workforce, with some international comparison. Using Huckaby’s (Educ Phil Theor 40: 770–788, 2008) conceptualization of specific parrhesiastic scholars, the paper introduces the idea of an Indigenous parrhesiastes. The paper then discusses, and endeavors to briefly address three questions that Foucault articulated in his series of lectures on parrhesia in 1983: “How can we recognize someone as a parrhesiastes? What is the importance of having a parrhesiastes in the city? What is the training of a good parrhesiastes?” (Foucault,, 1985). In conclusion, this paper shows that Indigenous parrhesiastes could make a strong and positive contribution to medicine and medical education.


Indigenous health Minority health Medical education Minority admissions 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, Centre for Health and Society, Melbourne School of Population HealthThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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