Prime Minister Tony Abbott's dismissive justification of the withdrawal of essential services from 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia by the West Australian Government as merely inappropriate "lifestyle choices" by Aboriginal people exposes his fundamental lack of understanding of the importance of "country" to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and its importance in improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal people and communities.

Unfortunately, the PM’s comments are at odds with his stated commitment to closing the gap and to constitutional recognition, as such a stance will have significant negative implications for many Aboriginal communities around the country, now and in the future.

We are left to wonder what the PM’s next steps might be. says Sandra Bailey of the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of New South Wales.

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