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Wednesday 08 April 2009


The NZAF's website: Due for an Extreme Makeover

Posted in: Features, HIV
By Matt Akersten - 14th October 2008

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Due for an extreme makeover: The NZAF website
"Great news, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation is undertaking a major redevelopment of its website," reveals the front page of nzaf.org.nz. And about time too!

In recent years, as the Foundation recognised that a huge number of gay and bi men are hooking up online, it tried out several ways of connecting to them with their safer sex messages through quite a few different websites: AssumeNothing.co.nz, LoveIs.co.nz, BroOnline.co.nz, SafeSex TXT.co.nz and others. Now most of them have gone, while its parent site lies there fairly isolated and untouched.

So now Nathan Brown, who has worked with the NZAF coordinating queer youth development Out There! from Wellington for the past two years, has stepped up to the challenge of re-jigging the NZAF's web presence. He knows nzaf.org.nz hasn't been meeting user expectations for quite some time, and plans to improve its usefulness and connectivity.

"As part of the ongoing process of planning a new site we have sought input from staff, users, target audiences, and key stakeholders on what they want," he explains. "This has included an online survey and consultation with key stakeholders, community groups and individuals.

"The key themes arising from the process so far have been the need for our site to be interactive and integrated with the wider web, it needs better design and navigation, and it also needs to be a place where people can find information that is up-to-date. Sadly, these are all things that our existing site has not done particularly well as it has become older.

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Webmaster: The NZAF's Nathan Brown

However, ongoing advances in web development and the potential for communications, health services, research and advocacy are available today, which makes for exciting opportunities for the new website, Brown tells us. "Changes in communication technologies have meant that health promotion that conventionally involved real conversations between health promoters and target audiences can now take place really effectively using technology."

Brown's new task might be taking him away from Wellington and into Auckland's NZAF Head Office, but it won't remove him from his important work with Out There!, and he has plans to expand their online presence too. Out There!, a joint project between Rainbow Youth and the NZAF, has been around for six years now, and has helped queer young people connect and feel included in their peer groups, families and communities. Three national Kaha Queer Youth Hui, the establishment of the Safe Schools for Queers network, and production of the Safety in our Schools action kit are three of many projects the Out There! has set up.

"My new full-time role as the Programme Leader, ICT Health and Youth Development at the NZAF involves leading the Out There! team which has double the capacity with two fabulous new people," explains Brown. Laressa Donaldson is Out There!'s new Queer Youth Development Worker and Elizabeth Kerekere will be a Kaimahi with Takatāpui Taiohi.

Brown says he plans to develop a new Out There! website and txting service for young people about sexuality and gender identity.

"My work in the youth sector and the queer community has been all about creating positive social change – change that helps our communities to rethink the way our social fabric includes rather than excludes. This process of change at both an individual and a community level is what inspires me. The focus of this new role on using technology as the vehicle to create the behavior change which is needed to prevent the transmission of HIV in Aotearoa is an inspiring opportunity."

Brown would love to hear from people who have a specific request relating to nzaf.org.nz's redevelopment. GayNZ.com readers are invited to email contact@nzaf.org.nz with the words 'Website Redevelopment' in the subject line.



Matt Akersten - 14th October 2008