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Ministry of Health push to retain Mäori staff

Media Release

25 October 2002

Ministry of Health push to retain Mäori staff

The Ministry of Health will introduce wide-ranging workplace initiatives to help make it an employer of first choice for Mäori staff.

This follows a survey which identified Mäori knowledge workers as a valuable resource in the health and disability sector who are crucial to helping the Ministry reduce inequalities and improve Mäori health status.

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi said the Ministry has made progress in implementing a number of initiatives that build Mäori staff capability and capacity.

``But we still need to focus on improving the retention of Mäori staff, and ensuring that all Ministry staff improve their knowledge and understanding of Mäori issues, the Treaty of Waitangi, and Mäori communities,'' Dr Poutasi said.

``The Ministry's three-year plan -- the Mäori Capability and Capacity Framework 2001-2004 -- outlines the plan for guidelines on staff recruitment, retention, development and management methods needed to make sure there is the necessary staff mix to contribute to overall improvements in Mäori health.''

As part of the plan, a survey of 29 current Mäori staff (about one-third of the Ministry's Mäori employees) and six former staff members was carried out in June this year. Respondents were from all Ministry directorates and included regional offices.

The report authors -- contracted from an independent company -- note the Ministry has made significant progress putting in place initiatives in the Mäori Capability and Capacity Framework, to the point where they were unaware ``of any other state agency which has implemented such a range of activities to build and enhance its Mäori capacity and capability''.

``We wanted to identify where improvements could be made to reduce avoidable turnover of Mäori staff,'' Dr Poutasi said.

``The report shows that the Ministry of Health needs to be a more attractive option than others on offer when competing for a limited pool of knowledge workers -- Mäori staff. These workers are key to helping to increase the skills within the Ministry to meet the health needs of Mäori.''

About 85 percent of those surveyed said they worked for reasons other than wages. Respondents also said they wanted to make a difference to Mäori health status, and saw working at the Ministry as a way to make a contribution.

``We are going to look at a range of different ways that will help the Ministry keep Mäori staff, including ideas such as running a programme for Mäori staff on the challenges of working in the public sector, and professional development programmes for all Mäori managers and other senior staff,'' Dr Poutasi said.

``These new initiatives are in addition to those currently underway, which we hope will improve understanding on Mäori issues for all Ministry staff.''

Dr Poutasi said the survey would be repeated in another 12 months to gauge the success of the staff retention initiatives. There will also be an assessment of how effective the capability and capacity plan has been.

The report, Retention of Mäori Staff Within the Ministry of Health, can be viewed on the Ministry website:


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