Structural Discrimination: A Fair Go For All?

Structural racism must be overcome in New Zealand

Are all Kiwis given a fair go? A Human Rights Commission report on structural discrimination (institutional racism) in public services says they are not.

The report finds strong, consistent evidence that structural discrimination is a real and ongoing issue in New Zealand. The report was launched at the New Zealand Diversity Forum on Monday at the Aotea Centre, Auckland.

“Māori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities are disadvantaged by a one-size-fits-all model of provision,” says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “Put simply, Māori, Pacific peoples and ethnic communities are not getting a fair go in New Zealand’s justice, health and education systems.”

“Addressing structural discrimination within a system or organisation will mean questioning the ways things are being done and have been done. The evidence is that a monocultural approach continues to fail Māori, Pacific, and ethnic communities.”

Studies show that specific targeted programmes have the greatest impact on improving unequal outcomes. Unfortunately, negative political opinion is sometimes used to erode small gains: programmes are shut down after only a few years’ implementation; targeted funding is cut; and a refusal to see inequality in terms of ethnicity, despite evidence to the contrary, drives policy development. It is important that political backlash does not drive policy formation at the expense of the rights and needs of all New Zealand’s communities.

“A fair go for all is possible,” said Mr de Bres. “What do we have to lose by thinking differently?”

Structural Discrimination: a fair go for all?

While there have been many attempts to eliminate the major ethnic inequalities in health, education and other economic and social measures, these inequalities persist. The Human Rights Commission has published a discussion paper that looks at the part that structural discrimination or institutional racism may play in perpetuating inequalities. The paper also outlines government initiatives with potential to achieve systemic change.

The paper looks at structural discrimination in health, justice, education, the economic system and the public service. It identifies levers within the Government’s influence – for example, how medical staff and educators operate within these systems – while also examining the values these systems are based upon and whether the government is doing enough to address inequalities. (source)

A copy of the report may be found HERE