RANZCP marks National Sorry Day with renewed commitment to self-determination and reconciliation
26 May 2022
Psychiatrists have marked National Sorry Day and the National Day of Healing by welcoming the incoming Labor government’s renewed commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart. There remain significant gaps that must be addressed in delivering mental health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and improving outcomes for communities.
RANZCP President, Associate Professor Vinay Lakra, spoke to the RANZCP’s 1999 apology for its failure as a group of doctors and psychiatrists to prevent and reverse exclusionary and discriminatory practices.
Associate Professor Lakra also noted the important role psychiatrists can make in supporting self-determination and reconciliation by working to improve the quality and accessibility of culturally safe mental health services.
'The RANZCP apologises for the role played by psychiatrists in harms to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities arising from forced child removal practices, as a College we are committed to righting these wrongs and preventing such practices from occurring again', Associate Professor Lakra said.
'Psychiatrists play a key role in acknowledging and supporting the need for reconciliation and self-determination. The RANZCP is committed to working with communities to reduce the mental health inequalities in our society'.
'The RANZCP commits to prioritising First Nations mental health in our policy advocacy. We welcome the government’s stated commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and will seek for this to be followed by solid commitments for increased mental health support'.
'Over many years now, psychiatrists have consistently raised the issue of the snowballing and devastating effect that exclusion and intergenerational trauma has on the mental health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples'.
'The RANZCP reiterates our commitment to Constitutional recognition, while acknowledging that it alone will not put an end to the mental health inequality. There is however evidence to show that self-determination, connection to community and cultural continuity can be protective factors against negative mental health outcomes'.
'Psychiatrists' commitment to reconciliation will continue to be shown through our implementation of culturally safe practice. The RANZCP is also undertaking to encourage and support more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors on their journey to become psychiatrists'.
'Reconciliation Week is a time for us to reflect on and learn about our shared stories, histories, cultures and achievements, and to explore how we can best contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia'.
For all other expert mental health information visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.
ENQUIRIES: For media enquiries or to arrange an interview contact 0408 584 439.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments and other groups on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.
In New Zealand: If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline NZ on 0800 543 354 or www.lifeline.org.nz or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 or www.lifeline.org.nz/suicide-prevention.
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