Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
COMMENT AND RESPONSE

Monitoring immigrant health and wellbeing in New Zealand: addressing the tyranny of misleading averages

Jed Horner A and Shanthi N. Ameratunga B C

A School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Samuels Building, Gate 11, Botany Street, Randwick, NSW 2052, Australia. Email: jed.horner@student.unsw.edu.au

B School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand.

C Corresponding author. Email: s.ameratunga@auckland.ac.nz

Australian Health Review 36(4) 390-393 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH11134
Submitted: 04 January 2012  Accepted: 26 April 2012   Published: 15 October 2012

Abstract

The importance of monitoring immigrant health and wellbeing outcomes following (re)settlement is acknowledged at a global level. Whilst many countries, including New Zealand, have adopted settlement strategies for the purposes of facilitating the integration of immigrants, measuring the success of such strategies is often hampered by two factors. The first is inadequate, and sometimes nonexistent, data pertaining to immigrant populations across a range of health and wellbeing indicators, and the second is the highly politicised nature of research in this area. This paper discusses these twin challenges in relation to New Zealand’s Settlement National Action Plan adopted in 2007 and other relevant social policy documents. It argues that the absence of consistently collected and reported country of birth data in public health settings inhibits the ability of immigrant health and wellbeing advocates to monitor the progress of government and other agencies in achieving the goals of the Action Plan specifically, and social policy more broadly. In order to address this situation, routine collection, disaggregation and reporting of country of birth data across the public health system and further investment in research on immigrant populations in New Zealand is recommended.


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