Plunket refocuses on achieving equity

Whanau Awhina Plunket clinical leader for Dunedin and Central Otago Sarah Cameron welcomes the...
Whanau Awhina Plunket clinical leader for Dunedin and Central Otago Sarah Cameron welcomes the organisation's new pro-equity approach to working with families. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
Whanau Awhina Plunket has committed itself to an equitable future and will work differently to help improve health outcomes for Maori mothers and babies.

Recently, 85 Whanau Awhina Plunket clinical leaders from across New Zealand took the organisation back to its roots in Karitane, spending three days at Puketeraki marae discussing ways to increase equity, inclusion and access to its services.

The session, led by chief executive Amanda Malu, included clinical leader for Dunedin and Central Otago Sarah Cameron, who was greatly inspired.

‘‘I believe it is a positive move for us — we want to ensure those who really need the service have access to it.

‘‘Our focus is on being more relevant to Maori and Pacific families,’’ Mrs Cameron said.

The organisation’s leaders had done a lot of work concerning the Treaty of Waitangi and staff were receiving the same training.

‘‘It has been a very thought-provoking process, as we strive for greater cultural awareness and sensitivity.’’

In the past year, Whanau Awhina Plunket nurses and two community Karitane nurses had worked with 920 babies in Dunedin. That work would continue, albeit slightly differently for some families.

‘‘Families which are well resourced and well supported might experience a slightly different service, through drop-in clinics, community Karitane, and Plunket line — so it will be a whole-team approach.’’

The aim was to allow Plunket nurses the space to work with families with higher needs, in collaboration with Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora and the Pacific Trust, along with other services such as Anglican Family Care’s Family Start programme.

‘‘This is a positive move forward for the organisation, and the staff are right behind it,’’ Mrs Cameron said.

‘‘Families can be assured that we are still here and providing the same important services, it just might look a little bit different for some people.’’

Ms Malu said Whanau Awhina Plunket was changing the way it worked with whanau, pepi and tamariki Maori to acknowledge the experience of inequalities, bias and racism in its services and across the health system.

At the Karitane meeting, Whanau Awhina Plunket set the goal of achieving equity in the delivery of its services by 2025.

Part of that was to acknowledge the past and the role played by two Maori midwives, Ria Tikene and Mere Harper, in the foundation of the organisation.

‘‘Their story has been invisible in Whanau Awhina Plunket’s storytelling ... and rebalancing our whakapapa has been an important first step in righting this wrong,’’ Ms Malu said.

The organisation also acknowledged the problematic views held by Dr Truby King in relation to eugenics and apologised for the harm those views and, by association, the organisation caused to Maori.

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