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Forum to Discuss Diversity, Bias And New Children's Ministry


MEDIA RELEASE 10 April 2017

Child advocate Anton Blank is voicing his concern about the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children.

As lead keynote speaker at Oranui’s Indigenous Diversity Forum on 5 May at Te Papa, Mr Blank will open the day by explaining why the Ministry for Vulnerable Children makes no sense from a social policy perspective.

“The Ministry is a poorly planned response to New Zealand’s very high rates of child abuse,” he recently told TV3’s The Project. “Over 70% of young people in the Ministry’s youth justice residences are Māori. This is hugely disproportionate and evidence of unconscious bias in the system.”

The inaugural forum will focus on exploring how New Zealand transitions from biculturalism to multi-culturalism.

“This will be a seminal discussion at a critical point in our cultural development. Thought leaders from literature, the media, public health and racism education will present their theses.

“Increasing population diversity in New Zealand challenges a national identity which until now has been premised on biculturalism,” Mr Blank says.

“A new diversity is most visible in Auckland, which is now one of the world's most culturally diverse cities. It has the fourth most foreign-born population of any city in the world.”

The premise for the forum emerged out the 2016 report Unconscious Bias and Education: a comparative study of Māori and African American students, written by Mr Blank, Dr Carla Houkamau and Dr Hautahi Kingi.

“The study showed how teachers’ attitudes towards students impacts student outcomes. Teachers have low expectations of Māori students. This is mirrored in Māori educational achievement that lags behind other groups.

“Dr Houkamau and I have now written REWIRE: the little book about bias, due to be launched at the forum. It explores bias as a human behaviour, and provides a framework for managing bias at the inter-personal level.”


About Oranui and Anton Blank
Oranui is focused on generating debate about diversity and giving people skills to deal with a diverse range of population groups. Anton Blank is a child advocate, project manager, communications consultant and publisher based in Auckland. Working across a portfolio of projects Anton has a special interest in indigenous children’s issues and indigenous literature. Anton has over 30 years’ experience in social work, communications, social marketing and leadership.

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