The Diversity Awards are held annually to champion diversity in the workplace and in this year’s awards the winners included Waitemata DHB, which jointly won the Cultural Celebration award for its eCALD education programme to improve the health workforce’s cultural competence, and MidCentral District Health Board, which took out the Positive Inclusion award for its Rainbow Forum programme.

MidCentral’s Rainbow policy

In late 2016 the MidCentral DHB Rainbow Forum was set up with the aim of making the DHB the most Rainbow-inclusive in the country for patients and for staff.

Aware of a staff member, Matt, who was left feeling scrutinised and upset when he attended his own DHB’s emergency department with his husband several years ago, the Forum set out to increase the competence of staff and to create a safe and inclusive environment for patients, whanau and staff who identify as part of the Rainbow community.

The Forum brought together LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, IntersexAsexual) people and allies to form a network to drive inclusivity initiatives and link with community groups.

One of the most successful initiatives, amongst other forum initiatives included in the DHB’s organisational development plan, has been a training programme on gender and sexual diversity which is delivered to staff several times a year, most recently to a group of trainee doctors. Another initiative has been signs for gender-neutral toilets available in the DHB.

The training programme has had nearly all participants reporting it had increased their awareness of ‘heteronormativity’ and discrimination of sexual and gender minorities. One participant said they became aware that there was “a lot of subtle discrimination in the workforce that would be hard to ignore if every person had this education”.

Matt also reported that a more recent visit to ED had been a very different experience where he had felt ‘normal’ and the staff engaged with his husband respectfully and appropriately.

Waitemata’s eCALD programmes

Work on developing Waitemata DHB’s eCALD education programmes was begun in 2005 by eCALD founder Sue Lim in response to the DHB’s increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) population (CALD refers to migrants and refugees from Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American and African (MELAA) backgrounds).

Auckland is now a super-diverse city with 44 per cent of its population born outside New Zealand and is home to more than 300,000 New Zealanders who identify as Asian and much of the country’s about 47,000 people of MELAA backgrounds. Waitemata District Health Board (DHB) serves the largest population of any DHB in New Zealand (more than 600,000 people living in North and West Auckland).

The eCALD programmes were aimed at improving cross-cultural communication by providing online and face-to-face cultural competence training for the DHB’s staff.  The programme’s success led to the Ministry of Health first funding a roll-out in 2010 of the free online and Auckland-based face-to-face courses to other DHB and publicly funded health workforces across Auckland and then funded the programmes nationwide in 2015.

The eCALD® programme provides a suite of cultural competency courses for working with CALD patients beginning with a introductory course providing health professionals with general insight and understanding in working with patients from other cultures and then offering a series of more specialist courses looking at working with migrant patients, refugee patients, working with interpreters, religious diversity and other topics.

The city’s cultural diversity is also reflected in the DHBs workforce – and increasingly so nationwide – and so another suite of courses was developed to help health workers work in culturally diverse teams, support new migrant staff working in a New Zealand health workplace and health managers to manage cultural diverse teams.

St John Youth highly commended

St John Youth won a highly commended award in the Emerging Diversity and Inclusion category.  This category was won by the overall Supreme Award winner – the New Zealand Defence Force for the defence force’s Sexual Ethics and Respectful Relating (SERR) training that sought to tackle the topical workplace issue of harmful sexual behaviour.

The St John Youth programme was honoured for its work in responding to the issue of one of its division’s youth cadets transitioning from female to male. This led to it working with Rainbow Youth to offer specialist training to Regional Youth Managers and any Youth Leaders with ‘out’ gender diverse youth. Another 110 youth leaders have received more general training, cadets can now wear a uniform that reflects their gender identity and there are plans to move to gender-neutral uniforms. It has also simplified the process of changing a cadet’s names and reissuing certificates and is currently consulting on gender-diverse dorm rooms and bathrooms at youth camps.


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