Saturday, July 20, 2024

Rainbow Advisory Group stands proudly within Wellington City Council

The Capital’s Queer community now has a voice at the table with a new Rainbow Communities Advisory Group (RCAG) working with Wellington City Council.

Council says the RCAG was set up to provide a cohesive, knowledgeable, and advisory role between LGBTTQIA+ members of the city and the Council decision-making process and to contribute towards Council’s priorities.

Councillor Teri O’Neill said it was important that people from the rainbow community felt they had a say in the city.

“Wellington is facing immeasurable challenges and I’m proud the RCAG can help create a better city for the future,” she said.

“We know from engagement and our Rainbow Hui the three main issues facing our community are housing, city safety and advocacy towards Central Government.

“Open and proud representation from elected members made a huge difference for me growing up. By being a visible member of Wellington’s rainbow community I can be proud to lead progressive rainbow strategy to the Council table alongside this group.”

The group is made up of a mixture of trans, cis, intersex, takatāpui, gay and lesbian people from a range of ages, making up a good representation of the community, says Council’s Community Services’ Resilience Advisor, Vondy Thornton.

“There was a lot of thought given to the make-up of the group and its diversity. This meant giving equal weight to work and life experience, as well as taking into account the opportunities in life some people have had compared to others,” said Ms Thornton.

“The community working together can offer unique perspectives on the work of local government, and the ways local government has the power to include, advocate and support queer people more mindfully.”

Council’s Community Services team liaises with the group to strengthen the quality of its work when connecting with, and funding rainbow organisations or programmes aimed at the community.

New RCAG member, Tyler Dunkel says celebrating diversity and furthering inclusion and tolerance should be high on the priority list everywhere, but especially here in the Capital.

“As the centre for Government and the Capital City, Wellington is home to a diverse range of people. The new RCAG is one small way Wellington City Council has a commitment to ensuring all people are welcome here. This inclusive attitude makes the city more vibrant and liveable,” he said.

“There has been 35 years since the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform, we have the opportunity to look back, and celebrate the progress but we must continue to build on those changes, particularly for our trans and BBIPOC whānau who have not yet been able to fully participate without fear and bias.

“I see the RCAG as being an excellent source of checks and balances for the Wellington City Council to consult regarding all parts of local administration and community initiatives. 

“I hope the group will be seen as a resource to add to the city’s vibrancy through diversity. It is my view that the RCAG should be addressing diversity, inclusion and tolerance within all levels of council itself, and their initiatives within the community.”

The first meeting had a short presentation on how local government works. At the next meeting on Wednesday 18 August, the group will vote in a Chair or Co-Chairs, and will map out their workplan for the next year.

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