OurAuckland spoke to John Kingi and Jules Radford-Poupard from the Auckland Council Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel.
OurAuckland: Can you tell us a little bit about your personal journey to becoming co-chair of the Rainbow Panel?
Jules: I joined the panel just over two years ago, and I’ve always been really involved in volunteering and working with the LGBTI communities, as have all the panel members.
I’m passionate about any kind of societal discrimination and stigma, so when I saw that Auckland Council was leading the way, it was really exciting.
It’s been an honour to be the co-chair, and to help facilitate the panel over the last couple of years, and more recently with John, which has just been stunning.
Find out more about the Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel
OA: You recently conducted research on what Rainbow communities want from the council. Could you tell us about your key findings?
Jules: One of our key objectives is a safer environment for our communities and that’s been really important. We did some research and that’s definitely come out over two years as a top concern.
It’s a really complex thing to create safer communities but I think one of the things we can do, and what Auckland Council can do, is really challenge the stigma and discrimination around our communities because that’s what leads to it being unsafe. It leads to violence, it leads to really terrible stuff and outcomes for our communities.
And there are really tangible ways that that happens. We see that particularly when it comes to getting access to housing for trans and gender-diverse people, and we see it for young people. We think as many as 25 per cent of them, when they come out around their sexuality and gender identity, are kicked out of home.
So there’s a raft of issues that we face because of stigma and discrimination. On the flip side of that, we have really amazing organisations working in Auckland with our communities, who are chronically underfunded. So we can support them through funding, through support through capability and capacity building. There are many ways, across many issues, that we can work with Auckland Council to make this a safer place.
John: Our ‘Three Questions Report’ was really an opportunity for our communities to tell us what they wanted the council to focus on, and we really think it’s important that our communities have that opportunity to engage. But the crucial, overarching theme that came through was around safety and that’s a real concern for us and really underpinned a lot of the work we have been doing.
So for example in housing, 40 per cent of young people who are homeless come from our rainbow community. That’s a shocking figure. What are we doing to address that particular group?
Why do you think the Rainbow Panel exists?
Jules: I believe the panel exists because our communities face significant stigma and discrimination, and that type of thing has resulted in violence towards our communities, hatred towards our communities, and our communities not being able to access what they need. And that brings about really awful outcomes, and that’s why I think we’re here.
John: I see the role of our panel as providing voices for our Rainbow communities within the council, and to provide strategic advice. Although we’re not representatives, we do bring our own voices and experiences from our communities.
And I also think that the panels are part of Auckland Council recognising the importance of diversity in our city, and making sure that the panels are a part of that process for the council.
John: So we really look forward to working with all of you to try and achieve some of our objectives and goals over the coming years.
Jules: And please come to our panel meetings, you’re really welcome to engage with us however suits you. We look forward to seeing you.