i've had a post up at the hand mirror today, about the furore raised by a aussie green party MP who brought her child into the house for a brief period.
also of interest today was this excellent discussion on radio nz (nine to noon, 9.22am) about disparities in public health care between maori and non-maori. i thought the way the issue was framed was really good, not casting aspersions at health professionals but rather explaining why they might behave in certain ways.
it's so important to have this discussion, because people who do not face this kind of thing so often refuse to believe it exists at all. they seem to believe that everyone has equal access to every service in this country, but can't see how certain behaviours or assumptions might act as a barrier for minority groups.
there are ways to deal with this issue, and the immediate one is to have maori provide services for maori, pasifika people provide services for their own and ethnic communities provide services for their own. that's the reason for the development of the ethnic women's centre in hamilton - the desire to provide an environment where women feel safe and free from discrimination, so that they are able to talk about their issues and get the help that they need.
one of the problems with this approach is that it does lead to a kind of "apartheid", where communities become separated from each other. which means they are even less likely to understand each other, and hence overcome the disparities that exist in service delivery. on the other hand, there is no way that a cultural change with existing institutions will happen overnight, and in the meantime there are people suffering and unable to access the help they need. so in the short term, the separate providers is a good idea.
in the long-term, there needs to be effort put into creating that cultural change, so that all people are able to receive the same level of service and can feel safe and confident in every environment. in order for that to happen, there first needs to be an acknowledgement that there is a problem that needs to be solved. hence the importance of this particular research and the discussion around it.