© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2024

Equalising access to healthcare

Davina Zimmer
PRISM co-creators Nat Young (they/ them) and Amber Jones (she/ her)
Photo of the creators of PRISM  SUPPLIED: Nat Young & Amber Jones

It was just an idea but this local start up could be a game changer in improving access to healthcare for the Rainbow community.


PRISM is a searchable database of healthcare providers created to help members of the Rainbow community find centres that accept and understand gender diversity.  

It targets the systematic issue many members of the Rainbow community face -  not being able to find doctors that accommodate their individual needs.

In the most recent census, 36% of those who identify as a member of the Rainbow community said they avoided healthcare because they feared discrimination and violence.  

PRISM creators Nat Young (they/them) and Amber Jones (she/her) are expecting the results from this year’s census to be much higher.

Although incidents of discrimination and violence are fortunately not common, they both say even the possibility of it happening is enough to make going to the doctor a common fear in the Rainbow community.

“Walking into the doctors as a queer non-binary person for the first time is terrifying because you don’t know what to expect.”
Nat Young (they/ them)

The pair have published a survey, and will use the responses to ensure PRISM delivers what the community it serves needs.

So far, the most common response has been better access to GP services.

"So if GP doesn’t know anyone who can do gender affirming care or know a lot about rainbow related issues you end up going around in circles. You can spend hundreds of dollars and not find a doctor who knows anything about you and your specific problems, or anyone who can help you."
Amber Jones

The survey also lets people share experiences anonymously. One individual wrote about being told they would lead an unfulfilling life because they had a female partner after going to A&E to seek medical treatment.

Person browsing a laptop
Person browsing a laptop Karolina Grabowska

The impact of inequitable access to healthcare is widespread. Jones points out transgender and non-binary people are also more likely to be homeless, live in poverty and lack education.

"In our opinion a lot of it does relate back to health care– because if you’re sick all the time, you can’t get a full-time job and you can’t hold down a job."
Amber Jones

Once someone has seen a professional they can go back to PRISM and give feedback which is then used to suggest the health provider to others and find issues within the system.

Most importantly, it’s confidential and free.

The hope is PRISM will operate as a nationwide programme by the end of next year. The pair say by August they’re hoping the search engine will be available for University of Canterbury students, and they hope to expand to greater Canterbury by early next year.


"The goal is that outcomes and how people are treated is equal."
Amber Jones