Health system ‘racist to Indigenous Aust’

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Going to the ER as an Indigenous person is a profoundly more racist experience than for non-Indigenous Australians – and it could even prove fatal.

A new report released Thursday, based on 267 validated incidents of racism submitted through the online portal Call It Out, found that “First Nations people experience all forms and levels of racism on a daily basis.”

“These experiences are often pervasive, intergenerational … and ongoing,” the report states.

Call It Out is an independent, Indigenous-controlled platform designed to give people the freedom to share whatever experiences of racism they feel is relevant, without the barriers that often hamper reports of racism.

Incidents across Australia ranged from physical violence, bullying and racial slurs to less overt forms of racism in the workplace or when accessing public services.

Five percent of racist incidents took place in a police station, five percent were recorded in a hospital or medical center, while four percent of reports indicated that schools were also sites where indigenous people were marginalized.

The 36-page report prepared by the Jumbunna Institute for Education and Research at the University of Technology Sydney, in collaboration with the National Justice Project, analyzed incidents reported from March to September this year.

Health service personnel, including doctors and nurses, stood out as a group and were more frequently identified as perpetrators of racism than the police, teachers or other professions.

Women were more likely to be identified as abusers than men (41% versus 33%).

Victims of racism in all recorded situations were more likely to be female (55% female versus 35% male).

The report highlighted how hospitals were often deadly places for Indigenous people, citing two fatal incidents.

An Aboriginal parent said their son died 24 hours after presenting to the emergency department of a regional hospital in New South Wales with a ‘sound or tearing sensation in his stomach’ .

The parent said their son was “prematurely misdiagnosed, wrongly sedated/medicated, deprived of medical imaging (which would have saved his life)”.

He was eventually returned to correctional services.

The corrections were saved as the son’s previous address and had not been updated by staff during more recent hospital visits.

The parent said their son had been discriminated against because of “Aboriginality, being admitted to occasional marijuana use and the fact that staff thought he was an inmate”.

He died of two perforated ulcers.

Another parent reported that his son and his partner were told to be discharged from another regional hospital in NSW “with no support in place, although my son’s partner saw her second trimester pregnancy end in death of her baby.”

“My son must have given birth to his deceased son on the floor of a motel,” the report said.

The parent said the couple are now suffering from long-term mental health issues.

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