GLBT counselling service OUTLine has welcomed new general manager Timothy McMichael (pictured) and farewelled chairperson Peter Martin, who leaves the organisation after a long involvement, including 11 years in various Board roles.
McMichael was appointed to the position of general manager in April, replacing Vaughan Meneses, and joined the organisation officially in late May following a move from the Hawkes Bay.
His vision is “to steer the organisation towards being a provider of nationally recognised clinical services, which will include phone counselling, face to face counselling and group work. [This is] all aimed at reducing the cost of individuals’ internalised homophobia and as a consequence improving the quality of people’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual health”.
He aims to continue the legacy of OUTLine while focusing more specifically on lifting the quality of counselling – both phone and face to face – to the highest possible standard.
“I will use all my care and compassion to develop services with sensitivity and with competence, for the wellbeing of my wider family and whanau,” he says.
This vision is informed by McMichael’s work on both a clinical and a governance level and particularly by his ongoing involvement with the NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors). He is currently organising the NZAC’s next bi-annual conference, held in 2013 in his “now-former hometown” of Napier.
He also has vast experience as a counsellor and health professional and headed several related services in the UK, including a Counselling Training School in London, Bereavement Care Services for the East Anglian NHS Trust and Bereavement Services for Houndslow, which involved counselling and support for three London burroughs.
In addition to these appointments, he has managed an ongoing private counselling and meditation practice and served as a funeral celebrant. He moved to New Zealand with civil union parter Stephen in 2008.
McMichael says he is looking forward to working with OUTLine’s as-yet unannounced new chairperson and expresses gratitude to Peter Martin for all the work he has done for the organisation.
Martin, a lifetime member, has also held the position of treasurer and has been responsible for several key changes at the organisation. He says he has enjoyed his 11-year association with OUTLine in various roles around the Board table and will continue to serve as a telephone counsellor.
“I have been privileged to have worked with good Boards and staff during that entire period and [people] whose values promoted action and change. I will miss being a part of that positiveness.”
Martin has seen a great deal of change over his time at OUTLine. His arrival on the Board coincided with huge growth for the organisation as a telephone counselling service, a drop-in centre and a supporter of community events.
The organisation, then called Auckland Gay Lesbian Welfare, began to train record numbers of volunteers, forged a partnership with Genderbridge and became more and more visible in the community, participating in the Big Gay Out, Erotica Expo and Human Rights Day functions.
Today, OUTLine has more than 40 volunteers and a national toll-free number – 0800 OUTLINE. In 2010, the organisation moved to new premises in Ponsonby and in 2011, The Topp Twins were welcomed as patrons.
Over the past few years, the organisation has developed projects in the areas of mental health, alcohol and drugs, families and aging communities. It has also been able to engage in a collaborative way with a wide range of organisations – such as the Auckland DHB, Affinity Services, ALAC and the Families Commission.
The most recent development has been the launch of the WTF campaign, a collaborative effort between OUTLine and Rainbow Youth. The controversial and hard-hitting campaign has the support of more than 30 New Zealand celebrities and is gaining worldwide attention.
Martin says he is heartened by New Zealanders’ changing attitudes towards the GLBT community, as evidended by the recent ONE News poll showing that 63 percent of respondents think same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.
“I think this is testament to the many rainbow peoples who are out at work and in their personal lives,” he says. “This approach gives the wider community an opportunity to know us and to measure us and they obviously approve.
“Looking back, OUTLine has worked to encourage such thinking and that we have collaborated successfully with kindred organisations is all the satisfaction I need as I move on to other adventures. Thank you all for your support of OUTLine.”
| Joe Macdonald and Anna Loren