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Government To Fund Aids Research

The Government is committing $300,000 to fund research to update behavioural information to make sure HIV and STI prevention services are targeted appropriately in New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson made the announcement at today’s Big Gay Out in Auckland.

“There is much talk about inclusion of the rainbow community but part of that is ensuring there is no disadvantage in terms of healthcare. This will help make that a reality,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Ministry of Health-funded research will study rates of HIV and STI testing, sexual behaviour, condom use, PrEP and inequities in these behaviours. This will help the Ministry guide the purchase, targeting, delivery and evaluation of HIV and STI prevention services in NZ.

The Prime Minister also gave further details on the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund that was announced last year.

She said the Fund would be managed by the Rule Foundation – as recommended by rainbow organisations – which would receive the $1 million endowment from the Crown flagged in 2019.

The inaugural application round will open in June 2020 and will provide up to $100,000 to rainbow organisations working to improve mental health, particularly for young people.

Note for Editors:

· The Prime Minister announced the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund at the anniversary of Rainbow Youth in 2019. She outlined that the Government would establish a Trust and endow it with a $1 million contribution. The Trust would provide annual grants to rainbow organisations working to improve mental health, particularly for young people.

· The Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund was proposed to the Minister of Finance by a group of men whose wrongful convictions for pre-1986 consensual homosexual activities were expunged in 2017. While they did not want compensation, they promoted an idea to establish a fund to support improved mental health outcomes for young people. In a sense, this was to ‘pay forward’ to the next generation by turning these negative experiences into a positive for young people.

· In September, the Minister of Finance met with rainbow organisations who put forward a proposal that the Rule Foundation could establish and administer the Fund. This was accepted by Cabinet in December. This will provide administrative efficiency and complementarity with the Rule Foundation’s existing focus.

· The Foundation is dedicated to improving mental health in rainbow communities and honouring the legacy of Peter Rule. Peter Rule was a celebrated member of the New Zealand Air Force whose career was cut short after intelligence services ‘observed him fraternising too closely with a man in Korea’ in the 1970s. He turned to a career in arts administration promoting New Zealand craft (pottery, weaving and carving) and Māori renaissance art. However, after suffering from depression for many years Peter Rule committed suicide in 1987 and left his estate to be used for the benefit of gay people. The Foundation provides a variety of support for rainbow organisations and individuals, and is well-suited to administering the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.

· The Foundation is now working to update its trust deed to establish the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund and to enable the appointment of two additional Trustees.

· The Foundation anticipates that it will open the 2020 application round on June 1 2020, closing in either mid or late July 2020. Disbursements to successful applications would be expected to be announced and completed by the end of August 2020.

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