Fri 6 Nov | Working with SSASGDYP & their communities (Forum)

Calling all health professionals, community organisations, youth workers, school teachers, welfare workers, LGBTI community members and their allies.

Join us for this all-in-one Forum (Working with same sex attracted, sex and gender diverse young people & their communities) – guest speakers/topics to include:

Rowena Allen – Gender & Sexuality Commissioner (keynote speaker)


Rowena Allen has been appointed Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Minister for Equality Martin Foley announced earlier this year. The Commissioner champions the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) Victorians within the Government. Ms Allen is an effective, experienced and longstanding advocate for LGBTI Victorians and has held leadership positions in the community and government sectors. Ms Allen has been a member of three Victorian Government LGBTI ministerial advisory groups and chaired the ministerial advisory committee on LGBTI Health and Wellbeing between 2007 and 2009. As founding CEO of UnitingCare Cutting Edge, Ms Allen established Victoria’s first rural support group for young LGBTI people, giving her a particular understanding of the issues faced in rural and regional areas. Ms Allen currently chairs the Adult, Community and Further Education Board and is a former Chair of the Victorian Skills Commission, the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVIC), and former member of the Hume Regional Development Australia Committee. Ms Allen has been recognised for her community service: in 2003 she received a Centenary Medal and in 2009 she was inducted into the Victorian Government Honour Roll for Women.

Daniel Witthaus – NICHE, ‘oi’ campaign, heteronormativity, young people in a regional/rural/remote context

2014 Williamstown Literary Festival; Bringing Real Stories to Life with Daniel Witthaus

Gay rights advocate and education activist Daniel Witthaus is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary mission to eliminate homophobia in Australia. This passionate Victorian from Geelong embarked on an incredible 38 week journey in 2010, all around rural Australia, taking his anti-homophobia training, called Beyond That’s So Gay’, to schools, organizations and individuals.

Jax-Jacki Brown – Disability, sexuality

Jax jacki brown- Photo Credit Paul Dunn

Jax Jacki Brown is a passionate activist committed to raising awareness of issues affecting people with disabilities and LGBTI people. Through her work as a writer, workshop and forum presenter, guest lecturer, spoken-word performer and theatre producer, Jax aims to challenge disability stereotypes and spotlight serious issues for change. She is a graduate of Southern Cross University with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Studies and Communication, where she focused on disability and LGBTI/queer studies, providing a sound academic framework to affirm and explore her commitment to disability and social justice issues.

Sandy Ashton – Switchboard/Out ‘n’ About, ageing & volunteering

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Switchboard has provided a volunteer peer based telephone counselling, information and referral service to the Victorian and Tasmanian LGBTI community for over 24 years. Our volunteers play a pivotal role in supporting a diverse range of LGBTI people to improve their mental health, wellbeing and connection to our community.
In 2014 Switchboard received funding from the Department of Social Services to establish a new volunteer based service, “Out and About” – a home visiting program for older LGBTI Victorians eligible to receive Home Care Packages. Volunteers are trained, matched, and supported to provide a visiting service that aims to facilitate community connection with older LGBTI people across Victoria.
Many elderly people in our communities experience social and/or cultural isolation. Our LGBTI elders experience even greater isolation which can have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. Our LGBTI elders need our help and support.
Our volunteers can provide valuable companionship and ongoing friendship to someone who is experiencing isolation. Visits may include a walk to the local coffee shop, watching a movie, or talking about their lives. The Out and About Program aims to enrich the quality of life of older LGBTI people but it also provides a rewarding experience for our volunteers. Learn more from Sandy Ashton, Switchboard’s Out and About Coordinator.

Damien Stevens – Diversity Project, community engagement/development, inclusive sexuality education


Damien Stevens is Kildonan UnitingCare’s Community Development Worker in the Diversity Project (formerly UnitingCare Cutting Edge) since 2002. Damien has partnered with the Department of Education and Training to implement and facilitate inclusive practice training sessions, and ‘Taking Care of Me’ (healthy relationships) programs for students in years 9 to 12. Damien has been a co-facilitator of a rural chapter of PFLAG (parents and friends of lesbian and gay people) Victoria in Shepparton, and presides over Goulburn Valley (GV) Pride Inc. for the last 10 years (Greater Shepparton’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queeer & allies [GLBTIQA] social group). Damien attends festivals, rallies & supports worthy causes & charities, both within and outside of the GLBTIQA community. Damien also represents Victoria’s interests on the executive committee of Uniting Network Australia, the national network for LGBT people, their families, friends and supporters within the Uniting Church in Australia. Damien has lived & worked in Greater Shepparton for the past 15 years, representing many of rural North-East Victoria’s GLBTIQA interests.

Young people (trans* & GD) – youth panel facilitated by: Zoe Birkinshaw – ZBGC

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Suzanne Wallis – Sexual Health in the Hume Region … where can I go?
Suzanne Wallis is a Rural Sexual Health Nurse Practitioner who has spent the last 3 and a half years employed by Goulburn Valley Health, Shepparton.
Her background is in Infectious Diseases nursing, particularly HIV, since 1992 and broader sexual health for the last fourteen years. This has included the challenges of clinical outreach, and service provision in the rural health sector in both Victoria and Tasmania.
She also works in an on-call capacity for the Victorian nPEP Service and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) as a Forensic Nurse Examiner for adult victims of sexual assault.
She has a particular interest in the provision of clinical services for those who are marginalized and at a disadvantage, including street based sex workers and our rural young people.

Venue: GV Hotel (223 High Street, Shepparton)

Registrations: 9.00am

Forum: 9.30am – 3.30pm (NICHE regional launch to follow 3.30pm – 4.00pm)

Click here to register.