The commitment to supporting ethnic diversity amongst the health workforce, especially our Māori and Pacifica workforces, and to Te Tiriti o Waitangi by both DHBs and the Ministry of Health has been found to be lacking when it comes to practical application.
Ngā Pou Mana is a fledgling organisation established by Māori for Māori Allied Scientific and Technical Health Practitioners. It aims to support this small and underrepresented workforce within our health system.
“Run by volunteers to date, their enthusiasm could only take them so far in addition to their day jobs” says Dr Deborah Powell, National Secretary of APEX, the Allied Scientific and Technical Practitioners Union. “It was inevitable that a membership fee would have to be introduced to give effect to so much of the good work that they are doing and need to do.”
For doctors, the fee to their equivalent Association is reimbursed by the DHBs through collective employment agreements. However, the DHBs have refused to do the same for the Ngā Pou Mana on the direction of the Ministry of Health unless there is some form of “payback” by other employees covered under that agreement to cover the costs.
“For over 5 months APEX has been seeking an answer to whether our system will give tangible support to our Māori workforce, but have been hampered by bureaucratic ping pong between the Ministry and the DHBs” says Dr Powell. “Neither seem to have a genuine commitment to this fragile and essential part of our workforce, despite all the platitudes we hear from both. When it comes down to it their commitment appears to only exist if someone else foots the bill; in this case other employees.”