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GLBTI Health in the National Spotlight

QAHC hosted the conference in Brisbane on June 14-15The 6th national ‘Health In Difference’ conference hosted by QAHC (Queensland Association of Healthy Communities) and ACON (Aids Council of NSW) was held in Brisbane on June 14-15.

150 delegates from Australia and New Zealand participated, exploring a range of health issues affecting GLBTI Australians. The conference included over 80 presentations, with workshops on relationships, HIV and sexual health, violence and homophobia, indigenous and rural health, parenting, youth and ageing, mental health, drugs and alcohol, arts and culture.

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The first public presentation on the findings of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissions inquiry into discrimination against people in same sex relationships, was presented by Commissioner Graeme Innes. The report called for the need to change 58 current laws. The National GLBTI Health Alliance was also launched, with all states coming together to establish a national GLBTI health agenda in the lead up to this year’s federal election.

At a cocktail party hosted by the glamorous Vanessa Wagner delegates had the opportunity to play ‘The Mailbox Game’, a health promotion and community development intervention designed to be played in GLBTI venues. The game has been developed by QACH and is played at pubs and clubs, giving patrons a chance to meet other people, while gaining important messages about their sexual health.

WA was well represented, with over ten people travelling to attend, several of whom presented sessions at the conference. Jude Comfort from Curtin University presented the findings of the WA Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health and Wellbeing Survey. The Freedom Centre and WAAC teamed up with Nadine Toussaint, Suzanne Calver and Ben Bradstreet to present ‘Kids with Queer Parents: Their perspectives’. Charles Snelleksz- Mathelot gave an interesting session on Trans-spirituality and Kirsten Stender (Perth Inner City Youth Council) and Sandra Norman (Gay and Lesbian Counselling Services) did a workshop ‘Gay in Outback Australia: The Great Divide of Rural and Metro’ where they shared their experiences of the Opening Closets Training Project in WA.

Georgina Beyer, the world’s first transgender person to be Mayor, and a Member of Parliament in New Zealand closed the event, with a powerful and motivating speech calling on all delegates to keep the momentum of GLBTI health and rights on the agenda.

-by Tanya Croft

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