I am writing this blog is because myself and other social workers have questions about the EnhanceR2P research project. The research was announced to us via the ANZASW Facebook page on 08/12 by one of the team and being interested I raised some queries/concerns about the project based upon the available information. No one from the team responded, even when other Māori social workers asked for the questions to be responded to. Just silence. Later that day, the link below about the rationale for research was posted. However I still had questions, hence this blog.
To understand my blog korero, it would help you to firstly read read through this link about the project.
EnhanceR2P stands for Enhancing the Readiness to Practice of Newly Qualified Social Workers. It appears as important research but it seems quite a leap from some of us wanting conversations about enhancing social work programs, to becoming qualified and competent to work with Māori. Furthermore the statement about, “Enhancing the Readiness to Practice of Newly Qualified Social Workers will develop an evidence-informed, industry-agreed Professional Capabilities Framework” makes me ask, who’s evidence and which industries?
The EnhanceR2P research proposal may have gone through a rigorous process via Ako Aotearoa but it should have been turned away and told to find Māori and Pacifica principal researchers, not just a ‘selected’ few advising from the next room. (It maybe that the core four are just the proposal team and Ako Aotearoa may yet appoint Māori and Pacifica principle researchers. If this is the case then hei aha, I asked about this but no one answered). A key point here is that just because SOME Māori accept the proposal does not mean it has the green light from ALL Māori. This would also include “…executive members of the Tangata Whenua Social Workers’ Association, the Council for Social Work Education in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers, and the Social Workers Registration Board: all were enthusiastic about the prospect of the project and the capability of the project team.” Getting sign up from our people means consultation and relationship building at the outset (i.e. the many pre-proposal stages). Not saying we intend to do that later when you’ve already announced yourselves as the core research team.
And what actually, does OPEN research even mean? Who is measuring and who sets the benchmarks in this research? And it is a mistake to assume that just because something is deemed open, that our people will naturally want to engage with it.
And just HOW do four Pākehā academics (from Open Polytechnic, University of Auckland, Massey University, and the University of Canterbury) who are also ANZASW members, assess/analyse ‘how well prepared’ newly qualified social workers are to work with Māori? How do they assess what cultural capabilities are much less determine how this is measured? And is an “industry agreed professional capabilities framework” based on SWRB standards or on the needs of tangata whenua (i.e, anti-oppressive practice)? Where are the Wananga within this grouping of social work training institutions that from my perspective produce the truly bicultural practitioners? Or the University of Waikato who have some of New Zealand’s most exceptional Māori rsearchers. Why would they not be included with the other Universities above?
Another neon flashing sign for me is, Māori have a particular relationship with Pākehā under Te Tiriti but NO WHERE, nada, zilch in the EnhanceR2P project rationale, is this mentioned. Rather, Māori are not at the table as in a te Tiriti partner, they are ‘othered,’ alongside Pacifica and the service user or open reference group. Māori appear as an add on. He tikanga kē, this is an example of separatism paraded around as benefiting all New Zealanders, except it is typically research that is done on Māori…he tāngata kuare. When I say ‘on Maori’ I am referring to any research that directly impacts the well-being of whanau.
Our people are the predominant users of social services in this country and that MUST inform how we create any agreed framework or minimum standard. It is Māori who have to be at the table, part of the team and collaborative approach. Instead the message this project sends is that Māori are not valued enough to be part of the core team of experts. In the same way social workers were not invited to be a part of the CYF Review Panel of experts but hey, they were acceptable as reference groups.
Māori have been advocating through our own kaupapa Māori research expertise since Puao-te-ata-tu and before, that Pākehā social workers do not know how to work with our people (Moyle, 1998). By in large Pākehā social workers do not understand or value whakapapa and wairua, tino rangatiratanga and kaitiakitanga (see Moyle, 2013). We have never stopped talking about how institutional racism and biased practice impacts our people. WE want to have input into creating the calibre of social workers that our people need; at least bicultural capable as opposed to churning out monocultural social workers stamped as approved to work with Māori. We’ve never stopped raising these issues or wanting to be a part of making change occur. We just haven’t been listened to! And this project of four Pākehā academics/ANZASW members get to do the research that legitimates what Māori have been voicing for years about the caliber of social work with our people. They, who I’m sure are well meaning like most non-Māori doing research on us, get to own the research and the kudos.
Now, more than any other time the removal and incarceration of our tamariki is epidemic. More than 60% of the total children in both care and protection and youth justiceresidences, are our own. Our tāne make up 50+% of incarcerated men and and 63% of wāhine. We have the highest rate of domestic violence in the world and the second highest suicide rate of which our young men are grossly over-represented (Moyle, 2014). We are not in a state of mauri ora but rather a state of imploding mauri moe. We know that to “get it right for Māori means to get it right for all.” Pākehā have consistently failed to get it right with Māori. It is therefore, time for them to get into the passengers seat and allow us to drive our own waka.
Finally, I will leave you with this video clip that brings home some of the points I raised in this korero. This is Alex Barnes, a te reo speaking Pākehā who asks, “What can Pākehā learn from engaging in kaupapa Māori research?” He refers to “Keeping it real, which is just that, in terms of the relationships you have (as a researcher with Māori), the integrity you bring to those relationships and who you are as a person.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxkX1IWm3LA&feature=share