Te Whānau o Uenuku, our Rainbow Roopu held its inaugural hui and what a fabulous two days it was!
The Roopu is made up of whānau from the Rainbow community and allies. A safe, caring and supportive environment was quickly formed as the group came together and bonded. The overarching themes from the hui were around acknowledgement, support, learning and focusing on the future.
Nic Coom our Director of People and Strategy issued the Roopu with a wero at the beginning of Day 1 to “think big and be aspirational” so that is exactly what we did. We talked a lot about how as an organisation we can influence and be more welcoming and supportive of diversity.
We were fortunate enough to have Alice Anderson who is the Executive Director of Qtopia talk to us about diversity and inclusion. Qtopia provide social support groups for the Rainbow community. They connect people to services and provide wrap around support. They offer a safe space for people to ask questions without judgement. Likewise, they provide training in diversity and inclusion. They work to bring about social change and initiate conversations.
Alice gave us so many rich and wonderful ways in which we can create an ally environment so that anyone walking into any Emerge Aotearoa space knows we are diverse friendly. Alice’s most important take home message is that if you do nothing else, do just two things:
1. use the correct pronouns when talking to whānau,
2. have gender neutral bathrooms…''tiny changes can be mighty''!
Our CE, Barbara Disley joined us via Zoom and shared with us her reflections during her time on the MH&A Inquiry panel. It was great to be asked what it is that we need to create a safe and diverse friendly workplace for kaimahi and tangata whaiora.
Michelle Dawes, our Learning Advisor based in Wellington shared a presentation on what is means to be and have rainbow allies. A straight ally is a person who supports equal civil rights to LGBTQIA+ or Rainbow people. It’s about being able to help others. If you would like to learn more about allies visit www.straightforequality.org
We kicked off Day 2 hearing from Taine Polkinghorne who is the Human Rights Advisor SOGISC (sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics) with the Human Rights Commission. Taine has developed a paper that will be published in the coming months that provides recommendations around rights pertaining to healthcare, information, work, recognition within the law and discrimination for the LBGTIQA+ community. We will be sure to share this paper with you when it is released but in the meantime our take home message is that building awareness of human rights is not enough, action is required.
Katie McGregor from our Tiakina Service in Christchurch presented a thought-provoking piece on “intersectionality”. She highlighted how things such as race, gender and class influence how you can be seen in society. We talked a lot about privilege and what this means
The Roopu spent time talking about Rainbow competencies and training for Emerge Aotearoa. What would this look like, who would help us provide it, and how could it be rolled out, were a few of the questions we posed.
We were thrilled to hear from Nic about the strategic plan for the next three years. It is encouraging to see diversity recognised as a strategic priority for Emerge Aotearoa.
It was the most incredible two days. Te Whānau o Uenuku would like to thank Barbara Disley and Nic Coom for their recognition and leadership of the Roopu and would like to say that we accept the challenge of supporting the organisation when it comes to ensuring a safe and diverse friendly environment and culture across Emerge Aotearoa. Finally, we would like to thank Cynthia Spittal for pulling the hui together and making it such a rich and memorable experience for all who attended. From the presenters to the decorating of the room, we felt such manaaki and aroha.
“Diversity is being asked to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance”
Te Whānau o Uenuku