Initial Thoughts: Building a Social Movement to Transform Institutional Racism in Aotearoa
In the 1980s public servants exposed systemic institutional racism within the administration of the public sector through a series of reports; the most well-known of which being Puao te a Ata tu (Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Maori Perspective on Social Welfare, 1988). The health sector had earlier drawn a line in the sand with a memo from the then Director-General of Health, Dr. George Salmond (1986) requiring sector engagement with the Treaty of Waitangi. More than twenty years on, the health system continues to produce inequitable health outcomes between Māori and non-Māori (Robson & Harris, 2007) in part because of persistent institutional racism within the administration of the health system itself (Came, 2012). Last year the Public Health Association (PHA) (September 2012) passed a remit at the AGM committing us (the public health sector) to take action to address institutional racism within our sector. It is time for courage and to draw a new line in the sand - let’s eliminate institutional racism within our sector by 2017. The costs of inaction are high and fundamentally incongruent with the stated values of the public health sector (Public Health Association, 2012).