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Maori Health A Priority For Plunket

A guide outlining how to work with Maori tamariki and their whanau - a key component of a strategy to deliver well child health services to Maori - was launched today at Parliament by the Associate Minister of Health, Mrs Tariana Turia.

Plunket’s General Manager of Maori Health, Becky Fox, said her organisation’s Maori Policy and Protocol will help Maori staff and clients feel confident that their cultural needs are valued and Maori and non-Maori staff will have an understanding of how to work together to better provide for clients.

“This is important as just over one fifth of all new babies in Plunket’s care are Maori. Plunket Kaiawhina, Community Karitane and Plunket Nurses deliver well child health services to 67 percent of Maori babies born.

“The Maori Policy and Protocol document is a significant commitment by Plunket, a mainstream non-government organisation, to Maori in the key area of well child health. It is also a positive step which shows that Plunket is fully committed to working with Maori and using approaches with which Maori people are comfortable.”

Becky Fox said it was pleasing to see that Plunket has acknowledged its responsibility to advance its services to Maori, both to reduce disparities in health outcomes for Maori and non-Maori, and to implement, in practical terms, its commitment to the Treaty of Waitangi.

“Two of Plunket’s eight board members are Maori. Plans are underway for the development of a Maori Caucus, which will see the appointment of Maori advisors to the extremely active volunteer arm of Plunket.”

Plunket at present employs 100 Maori staff (14 percent of its total staff) in various roles. These include the general manager Maori health, Maori services development manager, area managers, clinical leaders, the education team, the marketing and communications team, Plunket nurses, Kaiawhina, Karitane, PAFT workers, administrators and clerks.

Becky Fox, who is retiring from Plunket, said the Policy and Protocol document had evolved from an extensive consultation process involving all Plunket’s Maori staff and members of the wider Maori community.

“It is wonderful that an organisation which began in New Zealand just 66 years after the Treaty was signed, has come so far in working with Maori and training other health providers to care for children and families.

“If we can improve the health outcomes for Maori children by ensuring that the whole organisation understands how to support Maori staff and how to best work with whanau, then we have all moved a great way forward,” she said.

Plunket chief executive, Paul Baigent, paid tribute to Becky Fox and the contribution she has made to Plunket, particularly the numerous initiatives she has made to ensure the provision of appropriate well child health services to Maori.

Becky Fox is retiring from Plunket to return to the Waikato to live near whanau.


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