The First Minister launched an urgent investigation in April to understand the reasons for the higher risk of coronavirus among BAME communities.
Today, the Welsh Government has published its detailed response to Professor Ogbonna’s BAME Covid-19 Advisory Socio-economic Sub-group report, which made more than 30 recommendations to address the socio-economic and environmental impacts experienced by BAME communities.
Top actions so far include:
- The BAME Covid-19 Welsh Workforce Risk Assessment Tool was rolled out initially to Health and Social Care settings. A version has been adapted for Education settings, and a more general workplace version has been made available.
- Covid-19 ‘Keep Wales Safe’ communications have been translated into 36 languages to be easily accessible to diverse communities.
- The Race Equality Action Plan is being developed to take forward further actions on inequality, and will be rolled out by the end of this Assembly term.
- WG is scoping a Race Disparity Unit for Wales to press forward race equality – DMCW has been in discussions with Lord Simon Woolley, who is head of the UK Government’s Race Disparity Unit.
- The Communities, contributions and cynefin plan has been established: A new BAME curriculum working group has been set up to advise on and improve the teaching of themes relating to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and experiences across all parts of the school curriculum, led by Professor Charlotte Williams.
- WG is rolling out the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for Public Appointments to improve representation of BAME and disabled people in public appointments. WG is currently recruiting Senior Independent Panel Members to oversee recruitment to senior public appointments, and developing a leadership training and mentoring programme for BAME and disabled people.
- Welsh Government has funded a BAME Advice helpline, initially as a 6-month pilot project, which is being delivered by EYST in partnership with other BAME and diversity organisations.
The Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt, said:
The report from the First Minister’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) COVID-19 Socio-economic Sub-group placed race inequality in Wales in the context of Covid-19. The hard work and passion shown by members of Professor Ogbonna’s Sub-group has been crucial in helping us reach this point today, and I wish to thank them all.
The report clearly sets out many of the issues we need to address, and forms an important foundation for the Race Equality Action Plan for Wales, which I will lead.
Our initial response to the report is not an exhaustive list of actions being undertaken, but captures our progress so far against its recommendations.
Action in response to many of the recommendations is already underway. Some actions have been completed, and we have committed to others. Progress will be revisited regularly as the Socio-economic Sub-group continues to meet, and as many of the recommendations become further developed and embedded in the Race Equality Action Plan.
I look forward to continuing to work with Professor Ogbonna and his team, as well as representatives of many BAME organisations in Wales. We will work together to combat the structural and systemic inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Wales, and drive towards our ambition of an equal Wales, free from discrimination and inequality.
The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said:
I am very grateful for the hard work and recommendations of Professor Emmanuel Ogbonna’s BAME Covid-19 Advisory Socio-economic Sub-group. Their report is a sobering and powerful one, which highlights the entrenched inequalities experienced by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in Wales. Major change is needed throughout society to address these inequalities.
The Welsh Government has already taken several steps along the road, but we recognise that there is a long way to go.
Today we are reconfirming our long-held commitment to advancing equality for all. We have to look carefully and honestly at the structures and systems in society, and consider where and how to bring about change that benefits everyone.
Our work to develop a Race Equality Action Plan is already underway, and will provide the foundation for bringing about systemic and sustainable change for Wales. It will be developed before the end of this Senedd term. The Socio-economic Sub-group has agreed to monitor the implementation of their recommendations.
Where recommendations refer to areas where responsibility is not devolved, we will continue to use every lever at our disposal to influence the UK Government to address those recommendations. We will build relationships at official level to ensure we are sighted on relevant issues and can effectively challenge where necessary.
Now is a time for action, and this government is committed to creating a lasting legacy for Wales, where there is fair treatment and advancement for all.