Engaging Pasifika: update!
Enhancing the cultural responsiveness of our services and systems is recognised as an essential means of reducing ethnic disparities in access, quality and outcomes for health and disability services (Ministry of Health 2014).1
The recent More than numbers survey carried out by Te Pou rated Pacific cultural competency training in the top three training needs for mental health and addiction services across New Zealand. Recent research commissioned by the Ministry of Health on how to best meet the needs of Pasifika young people with disabilities identified cultural competency of workers and services as part of the solution to providing better quality of care for the young person and their family.
One way to address this is through Le Va’s Engaging Pasifika cultural competency training programme – ensuring that our workforce and services are equipped with the right knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively engage with Pasifika service users and families. We also provide effective tools and evidence to enhance best practice, like our Organisational Guidelines for Working with Pasifika people with disabilities and their families.
Engaging Pasifika has had almost 3,000 health workers from across the Mental Health, Addiction, Disability, Public Health and general health sectors gaining foundational skills and knowledge, and practical approaches for creating and maintaining relationships with Pasifika communities.
Our recent Auckland programme saw 25 representatives from mental health, addictions and disability in attendance. A common issue that often arises across sectors is difficulties with accessing the right services for our Pasifika communities.
For us access doesn’t just mean that services have an open door policy or that every door is the right door; it’s that our services are empowered to bring the right door in to our communities, in a safe, supportive and culturally appropriate way.
The group attending our Auckland programme responded very well, challenging their own practices, and identifying many simple but important ways to connect with Pasifika.
Our Tauranga programme with Support Net saw 31 attendees from across the Bay of Plenty come together with a focus for Needs Assessment Coordinators to “nurture the Va – the sacred space that relates”.
The workshop was often filled with laughter, but was also punctuated with serious moments as some participants began to understand the importance of nurturing the Va before focusing on making the assessment; going the ‘extra mile’ in making the connection with families, the importance of a greeting, to having a holistic approach to their practice and, importantly, that “it’s not what you say but how you say it”. We were honoured to have been joined by Don Sorensen, Manager of Support Net, who encourages his workforce to upskill in cultural competency.
Through workshop feedback, participants said the programme was thought provoking, engaging, interactive, practice changing, meaningful and, most of all, fun!
We’re thankful for the overwhelmingly positive feedback from both workshops. If you or your organisation is interested, please visit our Engaging Pasifika webpage for more information on our programme.
 Ministry of Health. 2014. ‘Ala Mo’ui: Pathways to Pacific Health and Wellbeing 2014–2018. Wellington: Ministry of Health.