The RACS Indigenous Health Position Paper (PDF 476.18KB) outlines RACS’ ongoing obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) and the Close the Gap Statement of Intent. It includes information that gives context to some of the issues faced by Indigenous people. It informs College Fellows, Trainees, Specialist International Medical Graduates (SIMGs) and external stakeholders of RACS’ Indigenous health commitment, supports staff with understanding the importance of Indigenous health and how this relates to their work, and holds RACS accountable to achieving health equity.
RACS position on Indigenous health
In supporting this position statement and RACS obligations to improving surgical health outcomes for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders and Māori, the College:
- Acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples as the First Peoples and recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights as Indigenous people under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the Australian Government in 2009.
- Acknowledges Māori as tangata whenua and their unique rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and rights as Indigenous people under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as adopted by the Aotearoa New Zealand Government in 2009[iv].
- Recognises the distinct differences between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples and Māori and the cultural diversity among and within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.
- Understands that Indigenous people view health holistically and health encompasses wider aspects like family, community, kinship networks and the connection to land, culture, traditions, waterways and its resources. Further information on Indigenous health models is included in Appendix 1.
- Understands that even though Indigenous people view health holistically, there are unique differences in the way health is regarded between Māori and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples.
- Acknowledges, supports, and is guided by Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders and Māori leadership in health.
- Understands the value of health knowledge of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders and Māori.
- Recognises the importance of Indigenous sovereignty in order to overcome the legacy of colonisation processes and dispossession.
- Recognises that the effects of colonisation, dispossession, marginalisation and experiences of institutional racism has had a profound and lasting effect on Indigenous people and their health and wellbeing across generations.
- Recognises the legacy of colonisation processes and the resultant racism and privilege at curricular and institutional levels.
- Acknowledges that Indigenous people continue to experience poorer health outcomes compared to non-indigenous people in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
- Acknowledges that poorer health outcomes are a result of the ongoing history of discrimination, economic and educational disadvantage and accessing appropriate health care.
- Understands that poor health is not a choice for Indigenous people.
- Continues to advocate for Indigenous rights and Indigenous health advances.
- Continues to develop strategies that address Indigenous health issues through the Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and Te Rautaki Māori (the Māori Health Strategy and Action Plan).
- Allocates appropriate resources to achieve the activities set out in the RAP and Te Rautaki Māori.
- Acknowledges the importance of strengths-based discourse about Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori health, and about social determinants of health, including for policymaking and advocacy.
- Emphasises the importance of genuine partnerships with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Māori and their representatives to improve health outcomes and develop appropriate, sustainable and effective health systems and services.
- Understands and prioritises the importance of Indigenous research to inform Indigenous health.
- Understands the importance of data sovereignty and that data be collected appropriately and is safeguarded and protected as per Indigenous people’s standards.
- Understands the Indigenous status of College staff.