Moving towards culturally responsive services

Moving towards culturally responsive services: Decolonizing health care providers' constructions of indigenous women living with family violence

Thursday 23 November 2017

2.30 pm – 4.00 pm

OxINMAHR HQ, Colonnade Level 2, OBU Headington Campus


Professor Denise Wilson, PhD, RN, FCNA(NZ) Auckland University of Technology

Abstract: In this presentation, the value of health care providers ‘decolonizing’ current and often unhelpful constructions of indigenous women involves recognizing traditional knowledge and the ways in which they keep safe is crucial to providing culturally responsive services. Current understandings about indigenous women (including Māori women – indigenous people of New

Zealand) and those belonging to minority groups and domestic violence are often informed by dominant feminist perspectives, and by explanations based on negative stereotypes, discrimination, and deficit explanations. For instance, it is not uncommon for Māori women to be framed as poor mothers or for being just as violent as their partners. Such constructions and the subsequent reactions they get from health care providers deters these women from seeking help, and overlook the strategies they use to survive and keep safe. They also make invisible the valued traditional roles these women have as bearers and nurturers of the future generations. Such explanations differ from a Māori worldview and do not account for their historical  and contemporary realities, framed by colonisation, marginalisation, cultural disconnection, and socio-political exclusion on many indigenous women. Moreover, it overlooks the important cultural contexts such as the complementary roles indigenous women had with men in traditional societies. New ways of thinking about Māori women and how they protect their children to stop being ‘victims’ of domestic violence.

Bio: Denise is the Professor Māori Health, a Co-Director of Taupua Waiora Centre for Māori Health Research, and the Associate Dean Māori Advancement at the Auckland University of Technology University and Visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University. Her research and publication activities focus on Māori/indigenous health and health service engagement, family violence, cultural responsiveness, and nursing and health workforce development. She has been involved in the development of the Ministry of Health’s Violence Intervention Programme. Currently, the Ministry of Social Development appointed her as the Chair of the Family Violence Prevention Investment Advisory Board; is a Deputy Chair of the Health Quality and Safety Commission’s Family Violence Death Review Committee; and a member of the HQSC’s Roopū Māori. She is also the Chair of the Mortality Review Committee’s Māori Caucus. Denise is a co-author of The People’s Report and The People’s Blueprint for the Glenn Inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence.


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