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Pasifika Allied Health Aotearoa New Zealand (PAHANZ) Network launched

Throughout the country, allied health professionals (AHPs) are increasingly playing a key role in integrating health and care services, and improving health and wellbeing for New Zealanders. An AHP is someone trained to perform services in the care of patients other than a physician or registered nurse – including occupational therapists and physiotherapists, but also many other professionals. The AHP sector is the third largest workforce sector in health, including such diverse roles as midwives, occupational therapists, optometrists and social workers.

I remember working together with a Pasifika family in a previous role, and coming up with a plan to reintroduce their son back into the community. What worked for Pasifika was an integrated multi-disciplinary approach, with a significant role played by the social worker and occupational therapist (OT). What stood out for me was the father’s comment, “I didn’t even know what an OT was,” smiling and relieved that something was happening for his son. 

Despite growing evidence of the transformative potential of AHPs, there is little AHP evidence of this vital work being actioned for Pasifika. There are many brilliant Pasifika AHP leaders across Aotearoa, who quietly and confidently carry out their role to ensure that those who require care see the right person, at the right time, in the right place. But our Pasifika AHP leaders need to be at the right table, at the right time and in the right place, so that the skills of Pasifika AHPs are known, used, and deliver the greatest impact for Pasifika.

Le Va, in partnership with the three Auckland metro district health boards (DHBs), is supporting our Pasifika AHPs through the Pasifika Allied Health Aotearoa New Zealand (PAHANZ) Network. A co-design process with the DHBs began in June 2017, pulling together a committed working group of Pasifika allied health leaders from across Auckland. This culminated in commitment from both individuals and the three DHBs, and led to the launch of PAHANZ at the Allied Health, Scientific & Technical Conference in May 2018. The conference shared examples from New Zealand and Australia to harness the value of AHPs.

PAHANZ members showcased the launch in the theme of ‘I am Pasifika’, sharing intimate and personal stories of being a Pasifika allied health professional in mainstream systems. These powerful stories captured the event, with commentators including Janice Mueller, chair of the New Zealand Physiotherapy Board and the Allied Health Leaders of Australia and New Zealand, saying “I’m so proud. It’s really pleasing to hear that the time has come for a Pasifika allied health voice. We want to look at needs-based equity for Pasifika, this is all part of healthcare excellence. This is the first time that a group of Pasifika allied health have come together and stood up with a shared vision, and over time we want to push this vaka out and invite those across the country to join us.”

Topping the event off was the presentation of the Janice Mueller leadership award to Carolyn Simmons Carlsson (Auckland DHB), one of the champions of PAHANZ, further highlighting the leadership and impact Pasifika AHPs have in the health sector.

Le Va would like to express heartfelt thanks to the people who have made the development and launch of PAHANZ possible. 

Malo le soifua, malo le soifua manuia

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