Pegasus Rainbow community support

Pegasus Health is aiming to improve access to health care and address health inequities experienced by the rainbow community by partnering with Qtopia, an Ōtautahi-based group providing support to rainbow young people.

Jennifer Shields is spearheading the partnership in the newly established role of Rainbow People Health and Wellbeing Advisor which sees her seconded to Pegasus one day a week and based with the Equity leadership team.

“In general, across all ages the rainbow community experience poor access and health inequities,” says Ester Vallero, CALD Health Manager. “That’s why we’re doing this, because Pegasus understands that things need to change and the way to change it is to create the space for people to tell us how to do it better.”

Estimates are that up to 10% of the New Zealand population identifies as being a member of the rainbow community, or LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual). Jennifer came out as a trans woman at the age of 17; now aged 26 she has spent the past 10 years advocating for the rainbow community particularly within the health system and brings the value of her lived experience to the role.

The aim of the role is to help Pegasus provide better support for the rainbow community by supporting the organisation internally as well as its’ GP practices and services, however Jennifer says a significant piece of her work is data collection.

“I am trying to get a clear picture of how the rainbow community access health care, what services they access, how many referrals there are and how many procedures are carried out, because we currently don’t have that
information and it’s important we have a baseline.”

The partnership with Qtopia is a one-year trial and in that time Jennifer wants to access as many Pegasus services as possible to offer the diversity and inclusion training that Qtopia specialises in and that she describes as the “golden ticket” to helping people understand and breakdown the barriers that the rainbow community experience.

“I want to move as much competence and confidence into primary health care as possible. The dream is that any rainbow person can go to their regular GP or family doctor and receive really competent and responsive care.”