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Reflective Journal 1

Over the last three weeks, I have been given a number of textbook readings and questions in which
I must read and answer before each workshop. Within these readings are health related terms and
ideas in which I have never heard before, helping develop my growing understanding of health.
During the first weeks reading Imagining Health Problems as Social Issues, I discovered for the
first time, the terms Health Sociology and Biological Determinism. While trying to complete the
reading questions, I found understanding these particular terms difficult. This is where I found
coming together as a large group in the workshop extremely helpful, as each one of my peers had
a different way of explaining what they read. This helped me create my own understanding of the
terms, and can now comfortably explain each in my own words, without having to read the
definitions labeled in the text book. For me, the most relevant information came from these class
discussions and has assisted me greatly with my understanding of health. Having encountered
University life for the first time this year, which I found very daunting, I also found that this group
discussion calmed my nerves, knowing everyone in the circle was in a similar situation as I.

After watching a number of short videos in the week 4 workshop regarding the chain of life, I felt as
if I could make changes to the way I live. The idea of tearing down and destroying the environment
to then have it disposed from homes within 6 months is absurd. I feel as if these videos will stay
with me for quite some time, potentially improving the way I live my life in regard to buying
sustainable items, recycling, and re-using. At the end of the cycle of life mentioned in the video,
personal health is being damaged because of pollution, and this has completely broadened my
knowledge on the topic. Coming into this topic I expected that the content would all be related to
the physical wellness and well-being of the body. Which was my previous idea of health. But after
watching these clips, my idea of health has expanded, knowing now that health is much larger than
just the well-being and physical existence of an individual. In regard to this clip, it goes above and
beyond my previous idea of health, now thinking more about how the environment plays a part on
an individuals well-being instead of just the way we look after it ourselves. I feel as if my
understanding of health after the first 4 weeks has now developed to a stage where I can

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comfortably discuss the learnt terms in my own words, and use them fluently throughout future
years of study and teaching.

(461 Words)

Reference List:
Germov, J. (2014) 'Imagining Health Problems as Social Issues' Chapter 1 in J. Germov (ed.)
Second Opinion 5th edition South Melbourne: Oxford University Press

Reflective Journal 2

I found the activities associated to the global public health topic we participated in to be extremely
interesting. In particular the task I was given where I was to list the toxic chemicals in my personal
healthcare products. Looking into my products that I use on a daily basis including my deodorant,
toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and cologne I found toxins that have been unheard of to me. The
most interesting being Aluminium Chlohydrate, a term I was aware of before purchasing and using
the product. Looking further into this specific toxin, I found that it in fact has many side effects, in
particular the side effects it has on the skin. This product when being applied to a body region
creates a reaction where it clogs the sweat glands, which can then lead to further irritation or
rashes on the skin (Thurman, 2015). Having this toxin clearly labeled on the bottle, Rexona is
acknowledging the fact that it does in fact include many ingredients that may harm ones skin,
however, like myself, it took serious research to find find these effects. I believe that because it is
such a popular product throughout households around the world, further labelling and education
should be provided so that these side effects are known. This will allow the consumer to make their
own decision on whether or not they will purchase this product again. When discussing this with
the class, I found that a vast majority of my classmates products had toxins similar to mine, and
some with even worse side effects than Rexona. This is worrying knowing that approximately 75%
of the class have products including these harmful toxins, and raises the question of whether this
percentage is similar at a worldwide scale.

I think the class and health reading and activity relate most to real life, as the entirety of the
population all sits within a social class. Relating to my life, where I am lucky enough to have
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parents who have worked towards living a comfortable life around the middle class, I find that the
healthcare system is always accessible to me. I feel as if the poor access of healthcare for the
lower class is to be blamed for the high rates of illness and the short life expectancy, as they do not
have equal access to healthcare systems. This potentially means prevention of any further disease
and illnesses is not being made. In regard to the activity we undertook on this topic, where we
traded chips with our peers to move up classes, it also reflects on life very well. Throughout life you
can sit in whatever class you work towards, and can work your way up or fall down. The higher
class in real life act very similar to the way the upper class worked in the simulation. They showed
their power and thought majorly of themselves and the lowest class, leaving out the middle. Prior to
this activity, knowing how people felt in each position was very fascinating, having heard the upper
classes, middle classes, and lower classes perspective. As expected the upper class told the group
that they were purposely controlling the game so that the middle class could not take their place at
the top, and that they were assisting the lower class in moving up to the middle. In relation to my

growing understanding of health this particular topic explores deeper into the population as whole,
instead of focusing on an individuals health and well-being. Which is what I previously believed the
term health revolved around. Before the reading I had a good understanding of the term class,
however I did not understand how it tied in with health. After reading through the chapter I found
the statistics to do with morbidity and mortality within the lower class quite interesting. Studies have
shown that these two statistics prove that the lower class have the highest rates of illness and the
shortest life expectancy (Germov, 2014). I believe that healthcare systems should introduce
policies and programs so that the lower class can afford to use the healthcare system for early
checkups, which could then lead to prevention of further illness and would therefore improve these
statistics.

I found the Gender and health topic easier to understand than many of the others. Prior to the
reading when I received my questions however, I did not seem to understand what many of the
terms meant. The term I struggled most with was Intersectionality. After reading the chapter and
discussing this term in class I was then able to grasp what this concept meant, especially after the
brainstorming of stereotypes in the workshop. I found these times in workshops extremely helpful,
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as I was able to hear from many of my peers, different perspectives and definitions of terms. This
particular topic opened my eyes to the differences in health between genders. Including the idea
that exposures to health risks are sometimes gender related and that male or female can be
effected more diversely than the other. For example, more men die from lung cancer each year due
to smoking, compared to the amount of women that die each year from smoking. (865 Words)

Reference List:
Thurman, C. (2015, May 23). The Effects of Aluminium on the Skin. [Weblog]. Retrieved 4 May
2016, from <http://www.livestrong.com/article/201752-the-effects-of-aluminum-on-the-skin/>

Germov, J. (2014). Second Opinion - An Introduction to Health Sociology. (5th ed.). England:
Oxford University Press.

Reflective Journal 3

Reflecting firstly on the topic of food, health and social wellbeing, I had no prior knowledge on the
issues and problems those individuals who work in this industry face everyday. After watching the
fair food documentary in the workshop I found many points interesting and alarming. Mainly the
ideas of 90% of food being wasted, that farmers have the highest rate of suicide in Australia due to
stress related issues (300 persons monthly), and that home brands take ideas, ultimately
threatening supermarket representation. After great thought and discussion within the class after
watching this film, I was able to gather more of an understanding on what foods were not fair and
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how we as a society could access fair food. Prior to this topic, I lacked an understanding of what
the term fair food actually meant, and how much of an impact unfair food plays on our farmers and
original food sources. The discussion taken place towards the end of the workshop, asking the
question How can we access fair food? has stuck with me for some time, and had got me thinking
about ways I could assist in improving the system. A way we could improve the system is by
encouraging local farmers markets, so that food can be accessed by locals instead of being
shipped directly to major cities and big name supermarkets. We could also encourage growing food
in our yards and develop new food networks. A term I had not yet heard about prior to looking at
the idea of food and health, was social appetite. After discussing this term with the class, I found
my understanding for this improve, knowing now that our food choices reflect our social appetite,
being the social, cultural, political, religious and economic factors that effect what we eat. This
class discussion had me thinking about my social appetite and what factor has the biggest
influence on what I eat. I answered my question with, the accessibility of food. Because I am lucky
enough to live in a middle class family within a privileged country, I find that food is always around
me which encourages me to eat. If perhaps these foods were not around me I could imagine the
amount of food I consume would decrease. I find these terms we learn in workshops and
throughout the course are helpful in relation to linking them to real life situations like this. Of course
having food accessible to me is a lovely thing, however I believe food should be distributed evenly,
in particular to those in third world counties. I believe, in relation to class and indigenous health,
that more food providing programs should be introduced to lower-socioeconomic and rural areas,
so that those who do not have access to food like me are also consuming the right amount of food.

Moving on to the topic of Indigenous Health, I again watched an informative film, Utopia, on
indigenous living conditions and health comparisons to white Australians. Living in Australia which
is known to be quite a wealthy country, I find it sad that the wellbeing and living conditions
Indigenous Australians face can be compared to those living in third world countries. Being a white
Australian living in a middle class suburban area, with access to luxuries and nearby healthcare, I
find it hard to imagine how living in these situations must really be. Having travelled to third world
countries before and experienced their way of life, I find it frustrating that a wealthy country like
Australia still wontt do anything to improve the Indigenous peoples living conditions and areas.
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Paticurlary when it comes to healthcare. Relating this to another subject I undertake at University,
health promotion, where I learnt about the lifespan and health issues Indigenous Australians
encounter in comparison to individuals living within close proximity to healthcare, I find it bizarre
that the Government cant focus their attention to improving the healthcare in these particular
areas. As well as comparing Indigenous Australians with those living in third world countries, sadly
their living conditions today can also be compared to their living conditions they experienced in the
1950s and 1960s (Pilger, 2013). I find it sad that the Government still to this day aren't doing much
to help these people, considering that they were the first to live on our land, and that it has been
like this for the last 60-70 years. Relating Indigenous Health to week 6s topic, class and health, I
also find it interesting that Indigenous Australians have it very similar to those living in lower socioeconomic areas within close proximity to hospitals. In the reading for this topic, the questions I was
designated were associated with the history of indigenous Australians and ethnocentricity. These
looked at the future of Indigenous Australians prior to World War 2. Prior to WW2 the assimilation
policy was introduced, where Indigenous Australians were to be absorbed into the non-Indigenous
population. Under this policy, these people had their children removed, which were then put into
institutions or put up for adoption (Germov, 2014). Following this question was, Was this another
example of ethnocentricity?. Reading this question for the first time, I found myself very confused,
mainly because of the term ethnocentricity. However, after reading the chapter it started to make
more sense. Because this chapter was based on a time many years ago, I tried to relate the term
ethnocentricity to todays era. Something that comes to mind when thinking of ethnocentricity within
todays society is terrorism. As shown through the media many times, terrorism is a crime
committed by those who believe their religion is superior to any other religion, which defines the
idea of negative ethnocentricity.

Finally, health promotion and education looks at the ways in which we as a community can prevent
illnesses and disease from progressing. After watching the film in the workshop which focuses on
the US and their healthcare, it made me realise how lucky I am to live in such a privileged country.
In America according to the film Sicko, they provide the statistic; 18,000 people die each year just
because they don't have health insurance (Moore, 2007). Australias healthcare system is a lot
more developed in comparison to the US, from what can be seen from the film. By showing the
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story of a couple that couldn't afford to live in their own home because of health issues and not
being able to afford health insurance, it made me realise how lucky I am to live in Australia.
Watching these sorts of films in workshops impacts my perspective to a great extent; seeing other
perspectives from those who have experienced the issue firsthand, and the struggle they face to
overcome these issues. This film made me feel sympathetic towards these people and opened my
eyes to the way healthcare systems operate so differently around the world. Something that really
stuck with me during this film is that doctors who deny someones healthcare enough times gets a
bonus. In terms of healthcare systems, this shows that sometimes depending on the country and
government, money is the big picture instead of the health of the people. I find this very worrying
and feel that the health of the people should always come before money. I feel as if I am very lucky
here in Australia, having had access to healthcare my whole life.

As stated in Journal 1, my understanding of health prior to starting this subject was the physical
wellness and well-being of the body. After completing all topics and aspects of the course I now
feel as if my understanding of health has developed to a level where I can comfortably repeat terms
I have learnt in my own words, and use this for future study and teaching. Beginning the topic
knowing very little about the term health, I can now say that my prior knowledge has broadened,
knowing now that many aspects create the term Health, not just the things we put in our body to
improve wellness and well-being. I now look past the physical health of an individual and look at
what creates a good healthcare system, understand that class and ones origin can play a part in
the access to healthcare, that health risks can be gender related, and that our food choices reflect
our social appetite. (1,396 Words)

Reference List:

Moore, M. (Director). (2007). Sicko [Film]. USA: Lionsgate.

Pilger, J. (Director). (2013). Utopia [Film]. UK.


Germov, J. (2014). Second Opinion - An Introduction to Health Sociology. (5th ed.). England:
Oxford University Press.
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