February News

Hello Rainbow Network community,
It has been a big start to the year and there’s been a lot going on in our sector.
Many of you joined us for the much-anticipated launch of the Writing Themselves In 4 National and Victorian reports this month.

While the findings of this research are deeply confronting, it is also a call to action. We urge you to read the reports and consider how you can use the voices and experiences of these young people to inform your actions and advocacy into 2021 and beyond. 

Here are some key points from the report;
  • While there have been improvements in social attitudes towards LGBTQA+ people over the last decade, including some significant changes in policy, and investment in programs, many young LGBTQA+ people continue to experience high levels of stigma and discrimination, harassment and violence.
  • The findings from Writing Themselves In 4 demonstrate the ongoing and significant impact of this stigma, discrimination, violence and abuse on LGBTQA+ people’s lives. This needs to be addressed through a focus on prevention, in order to address the underlying drivers of discrimination and abuse.
  • The mental health of this community is particularly concerning and warrants a coordinated, national approach that ensures LGBTQA+ young people can access culturally safe services wherever and whenever they need help. This should include services delivered by LGBTQA+ community-controlled and specialist organisations as well as inclusive mainstream organisations.
  • Young people continue to report not feeling safe at school, TAFE or university, and many had been subject to verbal and physical harassment in these contexts. Further interventions are required to ensure complete safety in education and to ensure that diversity in sexuality and gender is understood and accepted.
  • LGBTQA+ young people deserve to live their lives free from harassment and exclusion. Opportunities to affirm who they are, celebrate their creativity and connect to their community should form the foundation for any programs to address the hostile environment they often face.
In this newsletter we are sharing research to refer to and training opportunities to inform your advocacy as well as some opportunities to recharge and get inspired.

To start off, we are delighted to welcome back our Indigenous Voices guest contributor, Courtney Hagen.
Warm regards,

Rainbow Network

Indigenous Voices

A story from Courtney Hagen

Happy New Year!
Acknowledging this is the first time I get to share a story since we have commenced 2021 I wanted to reflect on an amazing moment I got to share with my family during the Christmas break.

Just prior to Christmas, with the momentum of the 30 under 30 award recognition - I felt ready to come out to my grandparents. Respecting my own personal energy and emotional capacity, I knew I wouldn’t handle it well if my grandparents reacted in an unfavorable way, so I asked one of my parents to have the conversation.
The conversation was short, and my nan's response filled a deep hole I had in my heart that I thought was shame. She said it didn’t matter to her and that she loves me just the same, and she’s so proud of me everyday and nothing will change that. She also said there’s gay couples on ‘Home and Away’ (long time running TV show on Channel 7) all the time, what’s the big deal (haha gotta love her).

What I found coming home for Christmas this time was a full sense of self I’ve never had, I didn’t feel the need to pretend I’m successful or happy or whatever it was if I wasn’t. I didn’t need to say “I’m focusing on my career right now” every time someone asked when I was getting a husband or if I had a boyfriend. I was finally free, I didn’t realise I was holding my breath for so long until I felt the air leave my lungs for the first time.

I hope we can all keep creating opportunities for our youth and each other to feel that way as much as we can. 

Seeking indigenous LGBTIQSB artists

Black Rainbow are currently seeking expressions of interest from Indigenous Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex Queer Sistergirl Brotherboy (LGBTIQSB) artists for their next glossary poster series. Artists will be paid a licensing fee for limited use of their artwork. The expression of interest form can be found here...

Aboriginal youth engagement grants

Grants of up to $50,000 are available for programs supporting Aboriginal young people to connect to community and culture as part of Victoria’s COVID-19 recovery. These grants are available to Aboriginal community controlled organisations, Aboriginal organisations and Aboriginal-led community, not-for-profits or peak community bodies. Applications close March 15. Find out more here...

Events & Training

Rainbow Network community of practice

The theme for our next meeting will be Responding to suicide in the wake of the tragic suicides of some local, young LGBTQIA+ people late last year, and in response to the distressing data relating to suicidality in the Writing Themselves In 4 report. We will discuss the importance of suicide safety training programs, and competency around talking about suicide with young people. Register to attend here...

LGBTIQ+ 101 training sessions

Wombat Housing Support Services and Zoe Belle Gender Collective are offering  LGBTIQ+ 101 training sessions for workers in care and protection services. The training is a free, online one-day session from 10am-3pm, and covers the basics of LGBTIQ+ best practice. It is suitable for anyone working in child protection, placement, foster care, kinship care, residential care services and other out of home care roles. There are two training dates available. 
Register here for March 9
Register here for March 15


Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health

The Victorian Royal Commission into Mental Health's final report will be released at a special joint sitting of the Victorian Parliament on March 2.
With three-quarters of mental health problems developing before the age of 25, youth mental health is key to creating a brighter, healthier future for everybody

On March 10, YACVic and Orgyen’s policy teams are hosting an event in which they will unpack and discuss the final report, recommendations and the impact of the final report on young people and the future of the mental health system in Victoria. 
Register for this online event here...

'Doing it better' in the country

The LGBTIQA+ Affirmative Healthcare series is designed to encourage GPs, health and aged care professionals in the Macedon Ranges and surrounding areas to build their capacity to provide affirming and person-centred care to LGBTIQA+ patients and service users.

There are 3 online sessions as part of this series. LGBTI aging & healthcare with Vals on March 9, Intersex awareness: affirmative health & wellbeing with Intersex Peer Support Australia on March 30 and trans and gender diverse healthcare with thorne harbour health on April 27. See more details on the flier here...

Sydney Queer Formal online

On this weekend!!! The Minus18 Sydney Queer Formal is going online on Feb 27, so all LGBTQIA+ youth can attend Mardi Gras, no matter their location. There will be live music, drag, DJs and the chance to make new friends. The event will be an interactive, pride-filled, life-affirming night for LGBTQIA+ young people aged 12-19. Tickets are free and registration is here...

Health in Difference conference

Health in Difference is a conference happening online in April, focussing on the health and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people and communities throughout Australia. Sessions will address the following themes: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing, Data Collection and Policy Creation, Suicide Prevention, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Health & wellbeing of people with an Intersex variation, Domestic & Family Violence, Strong Communities.
find out more here...

Resources & Research

Rainbow Tick: A framework for LGBTIQ inclusion

Yesterday, Rainbow Health Victoria launched their new resource, Rainbow Tick: A framework for LGBTIQ inclusion. This updated guide presents the Rainbow Tick Standards as a set of key organising principles for any organisation developing a plan for improving LGBTIQ inclusion, while also supporting organisations on their journey to formal accreditation. You can download it here...

Writing Themselves In 4 report

At the beginning of the month, with the support of Rainbow Health Victoria and Rainbow Network, the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society (ARCSHS) launched Writing Themselves In 4, Australia’s largest ever study of LGBTQA+ young people aged 14-21. You can download the National Report and the State Summery Reports as well as watch a recording of the launch or the animation featuring the voices of the youth advisory committee responding to the findings here...

National workforce survey for family, parent and child mental health

Emerging Minds are conducting a national workforce survey for family, parent and child mental health with the aim of establishing a baseline measure for improving the way children’s mental health is supported.
They are seeking professionals from health, social and community services to complete the survey, which will take about 15 minutes to complete and each person who completes it will go into a draw to win one of 6 iPads. Responses will be anonymous and data collected will be used in reports, research and to communicate workforce needs to government. Complete the survey here...

Arts & Culture

Ticket discount offer for YOU for MQFF Together

MQFF Together is the first part of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival for 2021. It will screen from March 11-21 at Village Cinemas Jam Factory, Cinema Nova and online, with opening and closing nights at the Coburg Drive-In. The festival will include a range of features, shorts and documentaries. MQFF have kindly offered a discount code for Rainbow Network subscribers. Enter the code RAINBOWNETWORK when you book your tickets to receive member pricing (applies to regular screenings only, not drive-in or online) Tickets here... 


Kylie Aoibheann McDonnell is a transgender and asexual film maker who has just begun pre-production of her next film: ASEXY, an asexual love story. In this article, Why More Films Should Be Asexy, Kylie discusses her own experience of growing up asexual without onscreen representations of realistic asexual characters and how that lack of representation contributed to her feeling broken and confused. Kylie believes that the lack of representation plays a big role in the general lack of understanding around asexuality. In writing ASEXY she “set out to make a film with real “ace” characters who were just as outgoing, funny, clumsy, stupid and lovable as any other teenager you’d expect to see onscreen.” Read the full story here...

Trans & gender diverse circus classes

Women’s Circus (WC) have introduced a new class to their program, Circus Mixtape, which is a heavily subsidised all-sorts circus class specifically for anyone who identifies as trans or gender diverse.  The class has been initiated in consultation with trans and gender diverse WC members and previous participants of their Trans & Gender Diverse Test Drives. All of the WC classes are open to the trans and gender diverse community, but this class is for folks who would prefer a specifically trans and gender diverse space.  Beginners are welcome and encouraged. Find out more here...

On this week: My Trans Story

My Trans Story is back for a fourth year at Mardi Gras Festival. From the personal to the political My Trans Story features proud trans and gender diverse storytellers from Sydney and beyond celebrating their complex, sometimes funny, often fearless, always fierce histories. Featuring Tea Uglow, Andrew Guy, Rusty Nannup, Victoria Anthony, Joël Murray and Olivia Stewart. Tickets to the online event are available here...


Eating Disorders 

Eating Disorders Victoria established online support groups in 2020 to support the eating disorders community through COVID-19 and they are continuing these groups in 2021. BLOOM is a group exclusively for the LGBTQIA+ community who are experiencing eating disorders. It is a safe space to discuss the dynamic challenges of eating disorders, body image, gender identity and sexuality. You can find out more on the flier here... 

Book to attend here...


Knox City Council community consultations

Knox City are holding LGBTIQ+ community consultations for people who live, work or play/recreate in Knox.

There is one left in the series and it's on today for parents, peers and allies of LGBTIQ+ people 7 - 8:30pm, register here...


Thorne Harbour Health are looking for 2 x Client Care and Support Officers whose role will be to deliver psychosocial support, advocacy, information, resource, care coordination and referral for people living with HIV.

Find out more here...
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