A unified call to action from Australian Nursing and Midwifery leaders: ensuring that Black Lives Matter
Over 100 nursing and midwifery leaders are calling for reform in nursing and midwifery education and the dismantling of systems of oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Australian healthcare system.
The call is led by registered nurse and midwife Dr Lynore Geia, a proud Bwgcolman woman, and Academic Lead – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, in the College of Healthcare Sciences at James Cook University.
Dr Geia said the horrific and public death of African American man George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer has shocked people across the world.
“Mr Floyd’s repeated words of ‘I can’t breathe’ became an anthem of a global ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest. The words ‘I can’t breathe’ resonate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia. These same words were uttered by Mr. David Dungay Jnr, a 26-year-old Dunghutti man, who died in custody during a ‘de-escalation procedure’ to confiscate biscuits he was eating,” she said.
Dr Geia said in recent Aboriginal deaths in custody coronial inquests, nurses have been called to testify, answering allegations of providing questionable standards of care.
“The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement has created a global discourse opportunity, a ‘now window’ to come together, to have the difficult conversations about Australia’s history and its influence on health systems and health professionals. We need to take genuine steps forward for significant change,” she said.
Doctor Geia and over 100 nursing and midwifery colleagues have published a ‘Call to Action’ entreating Indigenous and non-Indigenous nursing and midwifery educators to work together to reform curricula ensuring Australian nursing and midwifery graduates enter the health workforce knowledgeable and skilled in culturally safe care.
“It aims for nursing and midwifery academics to be confident in themselves to teach Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content, to create collaborative collegial engagement and care for each other as academics and students and to engage in reflective practice, critiquing and challenging structures of bias, while working toward reforms that contribute to dismantling oppressive practices in the health system,” she said.
Dr Geia and colleagues were overwhelmed and heartened by the number of people who wanted to be on the author list of the document, resulting in over 100 recruited in a single day.
“This willingness for leadership to stand together for reform in nursing and midwifery education and practice is just the beginning. This ‘Call to Action’ now needs to move beyond a willingness to stand together. Now is the time to link arms, move forward together, to create new songlines of reform,” she said.
Link to read the full paper:
Dr Lynore Geia