Deathscapes

Ms Dhu 7b - Institutional Racism: Hedland Health Campus

Deathscapes

Institutional Racism: Hedland Health Campus

Institutional racism and racial profiling permeate the health care system which repeatedly sees Aboriginal women like Ms Dhu mistreated and denied medical care. Wiradjuri woman Naomi Williams, for example, was 26 weeks pregnant when she presented to an emergency department was told to take some paracetamol and go home. She was dead 24 hours later.

Dr Sandra Thompson, expert witness from the WA Centre for Rural Health, suggested at the inquest that Ms Dhu might have been a victim of institutional racism because she was an Aboriginal woman in custody with a history of drug use. She proposed that these factors ‘coloured the way in which she was treated in the hospital environment’. Throughout the Inquest there was a refusal to acknowledge and interrogate the issue of systemic racism and how Ms Dhu’s Aboriginality informed the treatment that she received.

[BREAK]


‘If that had been a white, middle-class person, there would have been a lot more effort made to come to the cause of the pain.’

Dr Sandra Thompson, expert witness


During the inquest, the failures of medical staff to properly diagnose and examine Ms Dhu were described as ‘deficient’ and rationalised as being a result of ‘premature diagnostic closure’. The role of racism in informing ‘premature diagnostic closure’ was refuted.


‘We do not have a culture of institutionalised racism toward Aboriginal patients at the hospital…I would completely reject that for our institution.’

Dr Ganesan Sakarapani, Senior Medical Officer at HHC


 


Sharing

Please Read

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.

Proceed