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Monday 08 November 2010

Symposium on Health and Wellbeing

Posted in: Our Communities
By Vaughan Meneses of OUTLine - 1st November 2010

This is the first column in a weekly series to be penned by glbt community organisations throughout the country, highlighting issues affecting them or glbt people in general. It has been sponsored by the OUTLine counseling and advocacy service who launch the series today and will feature in this section of every second week.

Any community organisations which would like to utilise this opportunity to speak directly to NZ's glbt people should contact our editorial team via

Symposium on Health and Wellbeing
12-14th November

OUTLine NZ in association with ADHB will be hosting a 3 day symposium from the 12th-14th November at the AUT City Campus in Auckland. It is no secret that there are a few issues that affect the rainbow community a little differently to the mainstream, although, ironically it is because of the mainstream attitudes and behaviour that these issues exist.

The symposium is covering a specific topic for each day and will be hands on - the emphasis will be on developing ideas and strategies to affect positive change. OUTLine will spearhead and help co-ordinate any projects that emerge from the symposium and will also consult with other groups across the country to make sure that any strategies have a nationwide relevance and focus.

Friday 12 November: Alcohol & Drug Use
Many people within our community are affected in an adverse way by their over use of Alcohol and Drugs. Although generally always lumped into the same category they often have different levels of prevalence, and different implications; although often may have very similar outcomes for the individuals involved.

It is not our role to decide if we should or should not use substances, indeed abstinence messages often confuse the picture entirely and are not reflective of the very real world we all live in. Nor is it our role to make value judgements on individuals who choose to imbibe. It can easily be said by anyone that “the definition of a problem drinker is someone who drinks more than I do.” Very few people admit even to themselves that their level of substance use may be having a detrimental effect on their lives. We can all point to someone we know who uses more than we do. But someone does not need to be a chronic alcoholic or addicted to heroin for the substances they use to take some of the shine off life. Anyone who says that a few drinks now and then or popped the odd pill is not fun, has probably never tried them, or is in the minority. So how do we find the balance – when does fun become less fun?

What we can focus on are the factors around how and when a person’s use of alcohol or drugs becomes problematic for them. Information, dialogue, support, and developing self awareness are some key things that we can address.

Saturday 13th November: Mental Health
From time to time we all have periods or moments in our lives when we are not the bubbly sparkling people we want to be. This is a universal truth for all people, but what are the common threads that lead us a people from the rainbow community to have higher rates of depression and suicide? And more importantly, how do we make it better?

We do not have to have a diagnosed clinical mental health challenge to need support around our own mental health. Sometimes just talking to a friend, a walk in the park, or a good meal can alter our life perception.  Sometimes we need a little more than that. But how do we make it ok to be for that to be ok?

We will be looking at some of the broader challenges and some of the specific ideas and initiatives that we can develop to achieve better overall mental health and outcomes for people from the rainbow community.

Sunday 14th November: Aging Communities
Getting older – how on earth did that happen? Many of us have now been out for all of our adult lives, many of us never had children and many of us did not prepare for our future or plan adequately for retirement. Some of us never thought that we would need to go into a hospice or aged care facility and few of us realised just how heterosexist and homophobic growing older in New Zealand is. As we need a different level of support and contact as we age, do we really need to put ourselves back in the closet or spend our energy educating those around us about what it is like to be us?

Where do we as older rainbow people fit in our society? What can we do to change the story and take control of our destiny? During this day we want to hear from people about their ideas, thoughts and experiences of getting older so that we as a community can start making some noise and creating some solutions to make the experience of aging better for our community.

For more information on the Symposium of Rainbow Health and Wellbeing and to register, please visit:

- Vaughan Meneses
General Manager, OUTLine

Vaughan Meneses of OUTLine - 1st November 2010

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