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  • Health system 'racist to Indigenous Aust'

    Author: AAP

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

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

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"These experiences are often pervasive, intergenerational ... and ongoing," the report said.

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

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

Five per cent of racist incidents took place in a police station, five per cent were recorded in a hospital or medical centre, while four per cent of reports said schools were also sites where Indigenous people were marginalised.

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

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

Women were more likely to be identified as a perpetrator than men (41 per cent compared with 33 per cent).

The victims of racism in all situations recorded were more likely to be women (55 per cent women compared with 35 per cent men).

The report emphasised how hospitals were often deadly spaces for Aboriginal people, citing two fatal incidents.

An Aboriginal parent said the death of their son took place 24 hours after presenting to the emergency department of a regional NSW hospital with a "popping or tearing sound/feeling in his stomach".

The parent said their son was "prematurely misdiagnosed, wrongly sedated/medicated, denied medical imaging (that would have saved his life)".

He was ultimately discharged to Correctional Services.

Corrections was recorded as the son's previous address and had not been updated by staff during more recent visits to the hospital.

The parent said their son was discriminated against due to "Aboriginality, admission to casual marijuana use, and staff believing he was an inmate".

He died from two perforated ulcers.

Another parent reported their son and his partner were told to leave another regional NSW hospital "without any support in place, although my son's partner had her second-trimester pregnancy end in the death of her baby".

"My son had to birth his deceased son on a motel floor," the report said.

The parent said the couple now suffer long-term mental health problems.


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