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National group forming for glbt issues

Fri 25 Mar 2011 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Speir and Stevens introduce the ARA concept to last week's conference A small steering group of gays and lesbians is hoping to create a national organisation to help define social and legal problems which face our communities and which may be able to coordinate community responses to them. Currently named the Aotearoa Rainbow Alliance, the group is currently canvasing feedback and support. "We've just had a few exploratory meetings so far, says ARA member Michael Stevens, but feel there are a lot of small issues which might not get addressed unless individuals and organisations from our wider communities have some central umbrella type of organisation to help them coordinate their work and move things along." "Many important issues have surfaced in recent years," says fellow ARA enthusiast Anne Speir. "For instance, OutlineNZ's research shows a need for many social issues such as mental health and drug and other addiction to be explored and worked on, and these came up at last week's Human Rights Conference in Wellington too." Speir uses the situation of our elderly as another example of an area which needs exploring. "An increasing number of our people have been happily out all our adult lives, but if they become frail and need nursing home care or to live in a retirement village there is no 'best practice' in place to ensure that these places are sensitive to the things which make glbt people different from the rest of their residents." Both Speir and Stevens are at pains to highlight that, whatever shape the organisation eventually takes, it is in its very early stages and its role will most likely be to provide links between specialist groups and passionate individuals to enable pooling of resources and a coordinated approaches to issues. The concept for the ARA was briefly floated at the closing session of the Human Rights Conference and was well-received by the delegates from around the country. "Although feedback to people we have mentioned it to has been good we are still only getting the idea ready to take to the community, but we would welcome input from anyone interested in the project," says Speir. Contact details are available at the group's interim website.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 25th March 2011 - 12:06pm

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