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Heather McDowell


At the time of the WARAG group and report, Heather was working as the Regional Psychologist for DSW. Her commitment to change included work in the area of child maltreatment, resiliency, systemic change. She has worked as a clinical psychologist in a range of settings, most recently within a paediatric hospital. A focus on equity within physical and mental health settings is a strong area of interest.

The story of the Women’s Anti Racism Action Group (W.A.R.A.G) 1982 – 1985.

"Members of the Women’s Anti Racism Action Group were feminist women staff members working in the Department of Social Welfare Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Department of Social Welfare was the then central government agency with responsibility for income support and child welfare.

We will tell the story of why we formed, describe the context of the time, how we developed as a group, why we published the report “Institutional Racism-DSW Tāmaki Makaurau” (1984) and what it covered.

We will consider the impact of our work within the institution of Department of Social Welfare and beyond, the personal impact on our individual members, and also what we have learned from our experience of trying to change an institution from the inside.

You can read the report here:

Heather McDowell
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