Trust local

The last couple of months have been pretty intense as local health providers have stepped up to the plate to vaccinate the community. Organisations such as Southseas, The Fono, Otara Health and Health Star Pacific to name a few, have been outstanding in their efforts, with passionate staff who are understandably jaded at this time. From administering the vaccination on street corners and carparks to delivering food parcels to whanau, these organisations have been relentless in their desire to support local families.

From the beginning I’ve held the position that somewhere beyond the necessary edicts of the Crown, there have been too many hiccups between government agencies and local health providers and community groups. Somewhere along the line the decision was made not to include all Maori, Pasifika (and all the Auckland region for that matter) as priority groups for the vaccination roll out. Numerous calls from Maori and Pasifika medical professionals were made with evidence to include these groups as priority persons for the roll out, but alas, those voices were largely ignored. In the past week we’ve witnessed a whanau ora commissioning agency taking the Ministry of Health to court for information to reach Maori communities when surely, Whanau Ora is an extension of the ministry. We all have mobile phones people.

In the past couple of months we’ve floored the accelerator to lift numbers of those receiving the vaccination from groups who have generally had poorer experiences with public institutions and therefore have lower levels of trust and expectations of them. Trusted voices that are local and connected are pivotal to journeying with people who are incredulous towards systems and institutions that have made them feel unwanted and insignificant. To suddenly expect people to queue up for a jab that could well save their lives after leaving them out of the systems design and giving them no voice for years is nothing short of arrogance, clothed in stupidity.

From the outset the PM’s call for kindness and compassion has been spot on. That’s a Crown edict that can only flourish and gather momentum into the crevices of parched parts of the community. Big ups to Jacinda Ardern for being relentless in your call for kindness. But along the way, bureaucratic processes have ankle-tapped that call because much needed resources and permission go hundy on the ground keep local providers constantly looking over their shoulders in doubt. I know many public servants who mean well and are working tirelessly to support our efforts on the ground, so we all need to work out what those choke-points are, to eliminate the impact they’re having to reaching the hard to reach.

Co/re-imagining public institutions to be more adaptable remains a mammoth task for many that will require honest, brave and confronting discussions. So let’s have them and not just invite our polite friends or consultants who tend to agree with us. We need people from all parts of the field who will test, challenge and wrestle with ideas because that’s what robust discussions involve. Core to this discussion is how we achieve equity across the motu, giving serious thought on how we re-engage and start to earn the respect of those who have felt excluded and silenced from the very services that are there to enhance their lives.

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