Doctors launch landmark statement on Indigenous Child Health in Australia and Aotearoa NZ

18 Hakihea / December 2020

'When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.

— Uluru Statement from the Heart

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has today released a landmark statement providing concrete steps that paediatricians, health professionals and the health system can take to improve the health of Indigenous children in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Learn the colonial history of your country. Recognise the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Understand how privilege and institutional racism operates within health care systems and be open to naming it.

These are some of the recommendations for paediatricians and health professionals in Australia and Aotearoa NZ.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Māori children have the right to the same standards of health and wellbeing as all other children in Australia and Aotearoa NZ.

Dr Danny de Lore, Māori paediatrician, led the RACP working group that worked closely with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori people to develop a statement that provides tools and actions for health professionals to ensure more equitable health outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Alongside other strategies, critically the report outlines the actions paediatricians and health professionals can take to address systemic issues

For example:

  • Form relationships with people and organisations that work in Indigenous child health
  • Examine how well Indigenous children are served by your practice and your organisation and develop plans to achieve equitable outcomes.
  • Incorporate cultural safety and Indigenous Health into your teaching, training, supervision and mentorship of trainees and medical students.

The statement on Indigenous Child Health in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (PDF) is another tool in a suite of resources that aims to support physicians to provide culturally safe care and to champion cultural safety in medical services as set out in the RACP’s Indigenous Strategic Framework and Medical Specialist Access Framework.

Paediatrician and College spokesperson, Dr Niroshini Kennedy says “We want this new statement to prompt all paediatricians and health professionals to engage with the available resources so they can help to address the systemic inequalities.

“This statement and the actions it asks of Government, physicians, stakeholders and the RACP itself, marks an important step in the journey to improving health outcomes for Indigenous children.”

“We acknowledge that non-Indigenous health professionals and institutions need to do the heavy lifting to ensure culturally safe care and address the health inequities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.”

“Shifting health outcomes and inequities developed over generations will require advocacy to policy makers from all of society. The RACP recognises the role it must play.”

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