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June 6, 2017 | by  | in Mauri Ora | [ssba]

Putting the “student” back into Student Health

Over the years that Mauri Ora has been providing health and counselling services for students, the demographic of the VUW population has changed and grown. I feel proud walking around our campuses, seeing diversity all round me — young and old, every race, gender, able and less able, all represented here. However, I am also aware that as our community grows and changes, so must the way we approach service delivery. The “one size fits all” model doesn’t work, and all too often the ones it doesn’t work for are the most vulnerable in terms of health and wellbeing.

Because of this, the Mauri Ora team have been looking forward and contemplating how we want our service to look in the future. We are thrilled and proud to have partnered with a number of student groups to discuss new, exciting projects — specifically members of the sex and gender diverse community, students from our Māori, Pasifika, and international populations, and the wonderful group running the fruit and vegetable co-operative.

Last year, we piloted an outreach clinic in the marae, with “drop in” and booked appointments to see doctors and counsellors. The enthusiasm for this service has been wonderful, and with the arrival of our new Māori outreach nurse, Fiona, we hope that this clinic will become a more regular feature there; offering a safe, familiar space to discuss health and wellbeing concerns, as well as providing basic screening, advice, and vaccinations. Currently the marae clinic is available on Thursdays — to book an appointment either call the marae, or write your student ID number on the clinic door.

We are excited to announce that a Pasifika drop-in clinic will shortly be opening its doors at our Kelburn premises. This clinic will run over lunchtime every Wednesday, and will be led by Tara, the other new member of our “outreach” team. All Pasifika students are welcome to come to this clinic, no booked appointment necessary, and Tara can organise ongoing doctors visits or prescriptions as required. We are delighted to have also been invited to Pasifika Haus to deliver some fun “health” workshops as part of their Koe Vaka sessions — the next one is being held on June 7, and we will be focussing on how to deal with stress, anxiety, and mood problems.

Within our Sex and Gender Diverse working group, we have been looking at barriers to accessing health care on campus. This has been a truly enlightening experience, and the students’ thoughtful insights have been invaluable. As a result of this, we are developing a pathway of care for gender diverse students to access the support they need within Mauri Ora, and have made basic changes to our registration forms and screening letters to overcome some of those initial hurdles.

The steps taken so far have been hugely exciting for our team, and we are more grateful than we can say for the students who have partnered with us on these projects. Without you, there wouldn’t be a Mauri Ora!

If you would like to learn more about any of our outreach or student-partnership projects, please contact Rawinia on Rawinia.Mariner@vuw.ac.nz or our outreach nurses Tara.Lewis@vuw.ac.nz and Fiona.Davanzo@vuw.ac.nz.

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