5 March 2004
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation has responded sharply to National Party Leader Don Brash’s labelling of the teaching of cultural safety in nursing courses as “race-based political correctness” and “social engineering”.
“Nurses’ and midwives’ concern for cultural safety is a practical response to the fact that Maori suffer more illness and die younger than non-Maori New Zealanders,” said NZNO’s Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Annals.
“Nurses and midwives understand they must provide care to each individual in a way that respects the particular cultural values of that person. This is cultural safety. “
Geoff Annals said that while formal teaching of cultural safety was introduced out of concern for the appalling health statistics of Maori its application was to all cultures.
“The teaching of cultural safety requires nurses and midwives to consider how their own values and professional status can create barriers between them and their patients,” he said.
Geoff Annals said that cultural safety had been a significant part of nursing education for the past ten years.
“It has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with enabling nurses and midwives to give safe, non-judgemental care to all people, whatever their race, social circumstances, religion or sexual orientation.”
“Many New Zealanders are struggling to understand how their own values are recognised in today’s world. Ill-informed comments that suggest Maori values are given greater recognition than non-Maori in cultural safety are of grave concern. “
Geoff Annals said nurses and midwives expected political leaders to strive to improve the health and well-being of us all.
“We deplore comments that place at risk the well-being of all New Zealanders,” he said.