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Otago academic selected to chair key indigenous health committee

Wednesday 27 November 2019 9:28am

Suze-Pitama-small-image
Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama.

Associate Professor Suzanne Pitama, Director of the Christchurch-based Māori/Indigenous Health Institute (MIHI), has been appointed as the first chair of the Australian Medical Council’s (AMC) Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Committee.

AMC president Professor David Ellwood says the Committee was established in June 2019 to strengthen its approach to improving the health and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia and Māori in New Zealand. Led by Associate Professor Pitama, the committee will provide strategic advice and recommendations on important matters related to Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori health. It will also support the AMC's stated purpose of making health systems free of racism and inequality.

Associate Professor Pitama, a registered educational psychologist, has been involved in Māori health research and health education for over 19 years and is focused on addressing Māori health inequities through medical education, health research and through her membership on various committees and boards. She is a government-appointed Board member of the Health Research Council of NZ, a member of the Otago Medical School curriculum committee, and Chair of its Māori health sub-committee.

She says she is excited to begin this new piece of work alongside the AMC, and is looking forward to setting the work plan with the new committee members.

"The Selection Committee and AMC Directors are confident that Associate Professor Pitama, a Māori based in Christchurch, New Zealand, eminently delivers on these criteria."


Professor Ellwood says criteria for the Chair included strong leadership skills and committee experience, sound knowledge of or experience in the areas of health, training and education regularly considered by the AMC and that relate to Indigenous health, as well as good community standing.

“The Selection Committee and AMC Directors are confident that Associate Professor Pitama, a Māori based in Christchurch, New Zealand, eminently delivers on these criteria.”

Associate Professor Pitama is well-versed on trans-Tasman issues, having served on the Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education reference group for more than five years, says Professor Ellwood. She was also involved in the AMC team for accreditation of the Monash University medical programme in 2018 and has a strong interest in accreditation, particularly its positive influence in gaining institutional support for Indigenous health.