Emerge Aotearoa shows commitment to Rainbow community with new LGBTQIA+ network and partner

on 31 March

Emerge Aotearoa Trust                         He Muka Tangata


Media release
31 March 2022

Emerge Aotearoa shows commitment to Rainbow community with new LGBTQIA+ network and partner

One of the largest providers of mental health services in the country, Emerge Aotearoa Trust, has proudly launched its trailblazing new Rainbow network, He Muka Tāngata - Our Rainbow Network, on the International Transgender Day of Visibility (31 March).

The Trust, which oversees a number of entities providing mental health, addiction, disability, corrections, and housing support services, has been building the foundations of the network for several years and has created a full time Rainbow Partner position on its staff to advise and oversee its ongoing development.

He Muka Tāngata - Our Rainbow Network celebrates people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics. The network is open to all Emerge Aotearoa kaimahi and allies of the Rainbow community, but its key point of difference from many other organisational networks is that is also open to the people who access services from the Trust’s entities.

Emerge Aotearoa Trust CEO Dr Barbara Disley says the network demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to ensuring all LGBTQIA+ kaimahi feel confident, safe and welcome to be themselves at work. It also opens the door for the 15,000 people being supported annually by Emerge Aotearoa services, to contribute significantly to how they receive support, if they identify as part of the Rainbow community.

“As an organisation, we exist to help people thrive in their community. We want people to be proud of who they are and feel welcome to share their authentic selves at work,” Dr Disley says. “One of the reasons we officially launched He Muka Tāngata – Our Rainbow Network on the International Transgender Day of Visibility was to show that we are dedicated to creating something tangible that truly celebrates and honours the incredibly valuable contributions our Rainbow community makes to all areas of society.”

“It is common knowledge that members of the Rainbow community are over-represented in poor mental health outcomes and are at greater risk of self-harm and suicide. A major contributing factor to this is the higher levels of trauma, discrimination and stigma that members of the Rainbow community experience. This needs to change.”

The network’s goals include ensuring the voices of people supported by the organisation are heard; providing services in an appropriate and inclusive way; continually improving what it’s like for members of the Rainbow community to work at Emerge Aotearoa; and building strong relationships with other agencies.

“This is an incredible sign of commitment from Emerge Aotearoa,” says Rainbow Partner Cynthia Spittal. “We want to work in more inclusive and collaborative ways and know that making the Network accessible will help empower and educate people, while strengthening the services we provide.”

“What makes He Muka Tāngata - Our Rainbow Network so unique is that Emerge Aotearoa has invested in creating this full time Rainbow Partner role to oversee this mahi which will change lives and ensure the voices of our LGBTQIA+ staff and the people we support are not only heard, but sought after and valued,” she says.

Te Puna Ora, Emerge Aotearoa’s Māori leadership team, gifted the name He Muka Tāngata and also helped to co-design the network.

A virtual launch celebration for the network will be held later today. Among the festivities and music will be speeches from Emerge Aotearoa Group CEO Dr Barbara Disley, Rainbow kaimahi, and members of the Te Puna Ora team.


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