Health system ‘racist for Indigenous Australians’



Going to an emergency department as an Aboriginal is a much more racist experience than for non-Indigenous Australians – and it can even be fatal.

A 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 ubiquitous, intergenerational … and ongoing,” the report said.

Call It Out is an independent, indigenously-controlled platform designed to give people the freedom to share experiences of racism they deem relevant, without barriers that often get in the way of reporting racism.

Physical violence, bullying and racist insults

Incidents across Australia ranged from physical violence, bullying and racial slurs to more less overt forms of racism at work or in access to public services.

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Five percent of racist incidents took place at a police station, five percent were recorded in a hospital or medical center, while four percent of reports said schools were also locations where indigenous peoples were marginalized.

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

Health services personnel were selected

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

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Women were identified as perpetrators more often than men (41 percent versus 33 percent).

The victims of racism in all recorded situations were more often women (55 percent women compared to 35 percent men).

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

Two fatal incidents mentioned

An Aboriginal parent said their son’s death occurred 24 hours after he presented to the emergency department of a NSW regional hospital with a “popping or tearing sound/feeling in his stomach”.

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

He was eventually taken to Correctional Services.

Corrections were recorded as the son’s previous address and had not been updated by staff on more recent visits to the hospital.

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The parent said their son was discriminated against because of “aboriginality, admission to informal marijuana use, and staff thinking he was a prisoner.”

He died of two perforated ulcers.

Told to leave hospital

Another parent reported that their son and his partner were told to leave another NSW regional hospital “without any support, even though my son’s pregnancy ended in the death of her baby in the second trimester”.

“My son had to deliver his dead son on the floor of a motel,” the report said.

The parent said the couple now has long-term mental health issues.



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