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Thursday 10 November 2016

Meet LGBTI healthcare advocate Zoe Brownlie

Posted in: People
By - 16th September 2016

LGBTI ally Zoe Brownlie is running for the Auckland District Health Board. Passionate about healthcare specific to rainbow communities, we chat to Zoe about what issues need addressing and how this can be done.

Why did you decide to run for the Auckland District Health Board and what is your professional background?

I'm running for the Auckland District Health Board because I love Auckland, and want to make sure our healthcare system offers every person the support to live a happy and healthy life.

I want everyone to be able to trust our healthcare system, and receive high quality, individualised, transparent, and affordable care every time they need it. I will advocate for non-discriminatory care for all, more preventative health education, especially for young people, and for a larger mental health service to support every Aucklander's wellbeing.

I work at Auckland Sexual Health Service as a Community Health Worker, which involves working with both young people and adults across Auckland, facilitating workshops around gender, sexuality, and sexual health and wellbeing. I also help to set up rainbow groups within schools to create safe spaces for students and staff.

I have previously worked within mental health and sexual health services in London and Wellington, both on the ground and at senior management level. In London I was also an elected healthcare representative, similar to being on a health board, and am currently an elected member of the NZ Public Service Association Women’s Network Committee.

What do you see as the key issues that need to be addressed relating to healthcare in the rainbow communities?

Education! Everyone, but especially those working within healthcare, need to be educated around sex, gender, non-discriminatory practices, and the experiences of the rainbow community. I am a firm believer that education is often the answer to issues in our society, and can change a lot of discriminatory behaviour. Our healthcare system also needs to take responsibility and be absolutely unaccepting of any discriminatory behaviour from anyone, with serious consequences when it does happen.

There also needs to be better access to services, increased mental health support offered, more funding assigned to gender reassignment surgery, and the rainbow community needs to be involved in all aspects of health policy and planning.

How do you feel these can be addressed?

There needs to be extensive training for healthcare workers at every level, from community workers to nurses to reception staff to doctors to cleaning staff and management. There also needs to be more promotion and awareness of services available to the rainbow community, increased mental health care and support, more funding, and more focus groups created and rainbow communities consulted when all health policies are being created.

The situation regarding gender reassignment surgery in New Zealand is currently problematic, with an extremely long wait-list and lack of surgeons in New Zealand to carry out the procedures, is this of concern to you?

Yes, this is a massive concern for me, and if left like it is, is going to create an even larger wait-list and more need for care and support while people wait. If elected, I will work hard with the board to explore ways for more funding to be assigned for this surgery, for ways to attract experienced surgeons to New Zealand to carry it out, and for more support while people wait.

How can people vote for you if they wish?

If you want to vote for me, please put a '1' (NOT a tick) next to my name when you receive your voting papers in the post between now and the 21 September. Please also encourage everyone you know to vote, as the outcome needs to accurately represent our whole city!

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- 16th September 2016