Bukal Institutional Racism Matrix

Reducing Institutional Racism in Australia – More Action Required

social-network_110003543-012814-intCommittix Pty Ltd is committed to reducing institutional racism in Australian organisations. The image (left) shows the nature of institutional racism as affecting myriad corporate governance processes while at the same time being outside of the consciousness of any individual.

There is much evidence for the existence of institutional racism detailed in the groundbreaking work of Adrian and Henrietta Marrie’s Matrix for assessing institutional racism or the Marrie Institutional Racism Matrix (MIRM). Download the report here, which provides much information for the justification of action on this front, as detailed below.

Confronting an Australian Cultural Value: Addressing institutional racism is one of the most difficult tasks confronting Australian society. It is a form of racism existing outside of personal and inter-personal practices but encoded in an organisation’s (e.g. hospital) governance philosophy and policies, and strategies and plans, to create a cultural environment that allows patterns of inequity to manifest over the long arc of time.

Recognised in reports and academic literature: Institutional racism has been identified as a significant issue in the delivery of healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the National Anti-Racism Strategy: Consultation Report, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013-2023 vision is “Australian health system is free of racism and inequality and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable.”

No Practical Action: Beyond evidence and policy statements, where are the practical changes? There are ample sources of evidence used to support the call for a reduction in institutional racism, yet beyond collecting more information, doing more research, and analysing more data, no practical measures are taken. Policy makers and politicians do not have an evidence-based tool which provides them with solid grounds for policy reform.

Suppressed Report: The report “Addressing Institutional Barriers to Health Equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Queensland’s Public Hospital and Health Services” is an astounding piece of work based on the Marrie Institutional Racism Matrix (MIRM) which provides the first Australian tool for the systematic analysis of the institutional context in and through which racism can be embedded in the governance process of health service organisations. See the news article about the leaked report.

What is the Matrix? The MIRM casts an analytical gaze on organisational governance: the decision-making processes at board and executive levels, policy formulation and implementation processes, the development of service strategy and programme design, and on performance monitoring and accountability.

The MIRM is a tool for external assessment purposes to provide an objective, straight-forward and easy way to identify, measure and monitor racism in an institutional setting and to provide a measure for public health sector engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the decision-making, planning, implementation and accountability processes regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community healthcare needs and service delivery.

Expert review supports the MIRM: Robyn McDermott (2015), Professor of Public Health Medicine, in her review of the MIRM to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner of Queensland stated:

‘This is a valuable and important development which can improve transparency, accountability and ultimately the performance of HHS [hospital and health services] in service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.’ Prof Robyn McDermott

Origins – The Matrix for Identifying, Measuring and Monitoring Institutional Racism within Public Hospitals and Health Services (MIRM).



The BIRM is an iteration of the Matrix for Identifying, Measuring and Monitoring Institutional Racism within Public Hospitals and Health Services (download the MIRM).



The MIRM drew its initial inspiration from the Seattle Human Services Coalition’s Identifying Institutional Racism Folio (2005). The Matrix is constructed around five sites: institutional governance; policy implementation; service delivery; recruitment and employment; and financial accountability and reporting. The next section demonstrates the results of a audit on the Cairns Hospital and Hinterland Health Service (CHHHS) conducted by Adrian and Henrietta Marrie in 2015.

Matrix Results 2014 of a Cairns Hospital

This excerpt from the MIRM report (see p. 46) shows the detail of the MIRM and the startling results that it can reveal. At 2014, the CHHHS had a total score of 14 from a possible 140 points (an extreme level of institutional racism). Recent (2018) reports from insiders are positive however there are no public statements available from the CHHHS Board of Directors and the Annual Reports do not disclose the MIRM.


Dr Mark J Lock is available to conduct a confidentional Matrix audit of organisational corporate governance. This desktop audit service involves:

  • modifying the Matrix for use specific to your organisation,
  • conducting a desktop audit of corporate governance documents,
  • providing a detailed confidential report to the Board and Executive team, and
  • working with you to develop a strategy and action plan.



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