The Auckland University Medical Students’ Association (AUMSA) have established a Rainbow Communities Representative on their Executive following a Special General Meeting (SGM) at the beginning of Semester Two.
The SGM was held following a petition by Medicine students for the role to be created to advocate for and support LGBTQ+ students in the MBChB programme. The motion to establish the representative role passed 189 for to 16 against.
Josh McCormack, a third-year Medicine student, led the petition, which was signed by several hundred medicine students. Following the SGM, McCormack will act as Rainbow Communities Representative until elections are held for the executive at a later date.
McCormack was previously involved in the creation of a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) Rainbow Student Network which is currently the only LGBTQ+ club on Grafton campus. He was Co-President until assuming the Rainbow Communities Representative role at the beginning of August and has now stepped down from the Co-Presidency. McCormack says it was important to create the Rainbow Student Network as a club “for queer students by queer students” that would act similarly to organisations such as Rainbow Law or Rainbow Engineering. Previously, there has been no active queer student organisation for FMHS students.
McCormack, in his capacity as Rainbow Communities representative, will now advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and more inclusion of rainbow health concerns in the Medicine curriculum. These initiatives include lobbying for course content that focuses on LGBTQ+ health – including knowledge of HIV and PrEP for queer men – as well as including LGBTQ+ health questions in progress tests and assessed clinical scenarios. McCormack would also like to see a Medicine Stein that would celebrate and fundraise for the rainbow community.
Trecia Wouldes, Associate Dean (Equity) for FMHS told Craccum that a student group existed for LGBTQ+ Students in the faculty and that student services also provided support for queer students. Wouldes indicated that since becoming Associate Dean (Equity) in 2018, she has prioritised supporting LGBTQ+ activities and ensuring that queer students feel ‘safe and valued’ as all students should.
AUMSA President, Anneke Tomkins, told Craccum that “AUMSA is extremely excited to announce the addition of a Rainbow Communities Representative to the AUMSA Council. Over the past few months, the FMHS Rainbow Student Network have strongly advocated for the addition of this role in order to gain an equitable standing for the Rainbow community. Within a medical context, patient’s identifying with the Rainbow community continue to face discrimination which in this decade is simply not acceptable. The addition of a Rainbow Communities Representative to the AUMSA Council will provide a platform of advocacy to help educate the wider medical cohort on the issues the Rainbow community face in order to increase future doctor’s awareness of these inequities in hope to mitigate them. With full support behind the Rainbow Communities Rep, the AUMSA Council are eager to see what the future holds in terms of the imminent positive changes this role will bring”.