Ara Taiohi has a key focus on young Rainbow people since 2012 when the Queer/Trans Caucus was first established as part of its youth sector report, Te Hautaki. This entailed a national consultation across 11 hui which recommended Rainbow issues be included in all facets of youth sector work. It was recognised that Rainbow young people struggle with discrimination, stigma and exclusion and there was a call for the creation of a Rainbow Competency Framework for the wider youth sector.
Competency frameworks are designed to help organisations and individuals to provide services that are appropriate to people outside their usual frame of reference. Competency is about understanding and learning to communicate across cultures by understanding that no one person’s position is neutral. For this important project, Ara Taiohi sought input from people best placed to help.
“We co-designed the Rainbow Competency Framework with young Rainbow people from around the Wellington region, and with input from experts from the Rainbow community sector,” says Anya Satyanand, Executive Officer at Ara Taiohi.
The young people were very clear on what they needed mainstream youth development organisations to do:
- Welcome Us
- Count Us
- Respect Us
- Include Us
The aim of the Rainbow Competency Framework is to create safer youth environments where young people with diverse sexes, genders and sexualities are respected, made to feel welcome, and ultimately thrive. Ara Taiohi understood that in order to design a Framework that would be embraced, all parties would need to be on board.
“Part of the kaupapa is about partnership between mainstream and Rainbow organisations, and Ara Taiohi and Rainbow Youth have modelled this through our partnership to prototype, pilot and refine the Framework,” says Anya.
She’s been really pleased with the interest and engagement from mainstream organisations.
“We’ve been so heartened by the unexpected champions we’ve found in the mainstream sector; people who are ‘old school’ but because they’ve had young people asking them questions about their Rainbow competency, they’re seeking knowledge, and are genuinely committed to making changes!”
The team at Ara Taiohi has big plans around how they’ll embed the Rainbow Competency Framework.
“We’ll be building ‘Rainbow competency’ into Korowai Tupu, the professional association of youth workers, beginning with the ongoing professional development process and eventually into base competencies. We’ll also build it into our online self-review tool for mainstream organisations. Lastly, we’ll continue our work with Rainbow Youth to build the capability of the Rainbow sector to deliver high quality training and support for mainstream organisations,” says Anya.
The future is looking rainbow bright.