Cultural Safety

   Introduction    |  The Polytechnic Purges    |  Lesson 1    |  Lesson 2    |  Lesson 3 (still to be learnt)    |  Documents (Downloads)   


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The Polytechnic Purges. 1992-1995

Another history lesson worth examining if we are to address discrimination and abuse within the Nursing profession, are the cultural safety controversies of the mid-nineties. Like a number of other tutors and students in NZ nursing education at the time, I fell foul of a coordinated team of bullies: mediocre people, empowered by their ability to act as an oppressive group.

Unfortunately the Polytechnics trade-orientated aging male Administration were unable to deal with this behaviour, and succumbed to the miserable yet dangerous displays of co-ordinated female angst by the nine tutors who took out a personal grievance seeking my dismssal. The Administration was intimidated and impotent, thus allowing this sick behaviour to thrive and gain political sigificance amongst the ranks of the mediocre and self-serving .

Concepts such as cultural safety have to be modeled by the people that teach it, and cultural safety is about preventing oppressive group behaviour not promoting it. This was the basis of my argument to Erahapeti Rua Murchie. This hypocrisy was not lost to the academia of other Depts. in the Polytechnic at the time, and likewise to the wider world of NZ Academia.

I recognise that this group did not mirror every Cultural Safety Team in Nursing education in the country, but they were representative of some……. and that was far to many…. Unfortunately and inevitably such behaviour did become synonymous with cultural safety education in the eyes of the general public.

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Lesson 1
This need never have happened had the introduction of cultural safety been constructed to include models of mental health care, universal to both cultures at the outset. The development of an an integral core philosophy of mental health care where those who teach, actually model the behaviours they teach ,was essential for the concept of cultural safety to achieve it’s full potential. Unfortunately this didn’t happen.

I have no doubt that some in Nursing rode on the tide of Cultural Safety education for their own political advancement and personal gain…. maori and pakeha alike (although mostly pakeha it has to be said..) The enticement of overseas acclaim, money, status, junkets to here there, expense accounts, Tribal honour, Honorary Degrees… Professorships……..Published Books……… Yes ….all the trappings of success! No wonder they constantly congratulate each other…….

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Lesson 2
Fortunately enough good people of all races were understanding of the true potential of Cultural Safety as an ongoing journey in Nursing, and were still committed to it: subsequent to a Parliamentary Select Committee Report in 1996 they were able to take stock, objectively review recent history, and adapt the curriculum accordingly . The learning from that Report and the wisdom of the people who� learnt from it,� has enabled cultural safety education to remain integral to the National curriculum.

It is very clear to me now exactly how much damage was done to Cultural Safety Education in Nursing in the eyes of the general public, by the behaviour of those people at that crucial time in the early nineties, and of even more consequence, what a great opportunity to do so much more for Maori Mental Health ….was lost because of it.

There are a number of such career surfers from that time, arbiters of power with a penchant for status, and maybe the odd seat on the Board of a Committee where The Chairperson speaks with a charmingly magnetic american accent ……….

I believe a number of these folk now hold positions equivalent to:

That same terrible arrangement that existed at Lake Alice Adolescent Unit:

Predictably they now demonstrate little commitment to Cultural Safety or The Treaty of Waitangi and the principles of partnership enshrined therein. Models of mental health care that are common to both cultures are ignored, equally so they offend and disregard basic civil rights legislation, they defy legislation designed to protect the rights of the mentally ill and in doing so breach statutory law. They have openly and criminally discriminated against myself in the light of my declared mental health history.

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Lesson 3 (Still to be learnt)
Is there enough common sense and caring left in the NZ Nursing Profession to learn the lessons of history and rapidly curtail this situation, by Legislation if necessary.?
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1. ( Cultural Safety)
2. ( A small taste of sufferance) [1.85Mb]
3. ( Speaking Out)