Legal findings related to Cultural Safety and Equity

Kia ora e te whānau/ Hello fellows and members

It has been brought to my attention that there have been significant recent legal findings related to cultural safety and equity both in Australia and NZ. I think these are significant findings and explain why we need to pay attention to Cultural Safety and Equity competency within our group.

  1. Case  19HDC02310 August 2023 Health and Disability Commission. Regarding a woman in her 30s being monitored in a high risk obstetric clinic for twin pregnancy. The HDC finding was mainly about medical care, but there were adverse comments about cultural safety. The woman complained that prior to a twin’s death her requests for discussion and support were ignored. Effectively she was denied the option of having her cultural needs/ tikanga addressed in terms of care for the babies and herself  in pregnancy and around delivery time. ( Culturally unsafe care).
  2. An Australian Capital Territory ( ACT) tribunal for the Medical Board of Australia, October 2023, found a doctor guilty of discriminatory and offensive behaviour against a trainee who was of aboriginal descent. The senior doctor has had his licence revoked for 12 months. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA) news headline 3rd November was  “Landmark outcome supports goal to eliminate racism from Australian healthcare”.

MCNZ requires us to reflect on how our own views and biases impact on our clinical interactions and the care we provide to patients. “Cultural safety benefits all patients and communities. This may include communities based on Indigenous status, age or generation, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religious or spiritual belief and disability”. We are also asked to “challenge the cultural bias of individual colleagues or systemic bias within health care services, which may contribute to poor health outcomes for patients of different cultures”.  To see the statements and resources on the MCNZ website  see:

NZCMM Executive and Education and Training Committees have endorsed the Cultural Safety Training Plan produced by Council of Medical Colleges in association with Te Ora and the related Literature Search.  The training plan is being incorporated into NZCMM’s CPD and vocational training plans and learning materials.

Jenny Keightley