In their own words: Reports from HiD2015 Scholarship Holders

A major focus of the Health in Difference conferences is inclusive practice. Many of the people who hold important knowledge about our populations and communities have faced multiple forms of disadvantage, and/or perhaps are geographically isolated. The scholarship program helps to ensure that a wide diversity of voices are heard at each Health in Difference – particularly those of people who would otherwise not be able to attend and participate. This year we were able to issue 25 scholarships: covering travel, accommodation, and other expenses.

We are very grateful for the generous support of the following organisations who made this years scholarship program possible:

and also Quality Innovation Performance [QIP]


 

In their own words…

We asked each scholarship recipient to reflect on their experiences and learning at HiD2015. Thank you to everyone who sent us their reports. Here we share a selection of their words that help to demonstrate the impact that HiD2015 is having across many populations throughout Australia.

Bonnie HartAndrogen Insensitivity Support Group of Australia [AISSGA]

Morgan Carpenter and Bonnie Hart presenting at HiD2015

I applied for a scholarship to attend the Health in Difference conference as the organisation I represent is entirely funded by the member fees of a relatively small constituent.  Without access to the scholarship I would have been completely unable to attend the conference, as my organisation could not afford the costs of interstate travel, accommodation and food.  I spend about 20 hours per week working in a voluntary capacity with the AISSGA, filling a gap in service provision for intersex peer support and advocacy.

A highlight of the conference? I got to meet Mani Mitchel and attend their workshop.  It was a heartfelt and provocative experience which radicalised my view of the work that I do and the approach I take to getting it done.  Also being given a platform to discuss issues affecting people with intersex variation in Australia was timely and well received.

How will this benefit your ongoing work? Networking and being know to other health services providers is invaluable.  A thorough understanding is lacking amongst many LGBTIQ organisations of what intersex is, and the issues that affect the huge scope of intersex people.  By providing an educational platform at the conference for intersex peers to deliver basic education directly  to practitioners in various fields who many come into contact with intersex people, or draft policy that affects them, was extremely useful.  The more accurate information people have about intersex, the less explaining the individual intersex person needs do to access essential services.

Cassieopia Robertson

What did you gain from HiD2015? What I have gained from attending the Health in Difference Conference… Wow! Where do I start!  I have been overwhelmed by the wealth of knowledge I have gained over the three days I attended.  I learned of topics I did not even know existed in the LGBTIQA world.  Even now, I am still trying to process it all.  The opportunity to hear from people with lived experience of a variety of identities has given me valuable insight into the reality faced by these individuals.  These stories have helped me to appreciate the diverse backgrounds that members of the community come from.  In addition to the breadth of information I have learned, I now have connections all over Australia who through sharing their personal experiences have opened my mind to the possibilities present for LGBTIQA people in contemporary Australia.

How will this benefit your ongoing work? In my university studies in social work, the knowledge and connections I have made will be invaluable in helping me approach my studies in an informed manner.  The richness and depth of the information I have attained about LGBTIQA health is far beyond any I could gain through my own pursuits or through my university studies.  Whenever possible, I will be able to share this knowledge with my classmates and hope this will enrich their experiences as well.

In my involvement with various community groups, I aim to share the knowledge and understanding I have gained.  The Sunshine Coast region has a limited rainbow presence, especially for young people looking to explore their identity.  Our university LGBTIQA group provides one of the few opportunities available for young people in our region to connect with this community and explore this aspect of them.

Tanya Quakawoot -Tekwabi Giz

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Tanya Quakawoot presents as part of ‘Tekwabi Giz’ – In the opening plenary of HiD2015

The opportunity to participate in the Health in Difference 2015 conference this year was not only a memorable personal achievement for me, but more importantly an opportunity to voice the importance in improving the health and well being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbians and same sex attracted women in Australia.  It was exciting and inspiring listening to the depth of knowledge and experience across all areas of LGBTIQ health. I learned the rainbow family is an excellent resource for everyone to access.

Elise Carrotte

What did you gain from attending HiD2015? Attending the conference opened my eyes to a lot of issues that are often ignored by research and community organisations or deemed ‘too difficult to deal with’. It was great learning more about BeyondBlue, QLife and ReachOut, new media based interventions (e.g. the ‘WorryTime’ application) as these are relevant to the work we do at Burnet regarding social media and youth health. I also learnt a lot about Indigenous LGBTI+ health which is not often ‘given a voice’ in the organisations and events I have attended.

How will this impact your ongoing work? The feedback on my presentation informed changes to our 2016 health survey and our now submitted manuscript, particularly in terms of appropriate language use, intersex inclusion and discussion of relevant inclusivity guidelines. Seeing Dr Gavi Ansara speak on inclusivity issues in health research was particularly relevant for my work; I wasn’t aware of his work previously and I was able to track down his publications and recommendations.

I was also able to provide contacts between one of our PhD students and a researcher at Deakin University, both of whom are developing smartphone interventions for alcohol use among young people. Neither party was aware of the others’ work previously.

Jax Jacki Brown

Why did you apply for a scholarship to attend HiD2015? I am on the Disability Support Pension and so don’t have spare funds or an employer to pay for my attendance as a lot of the work I do is unpaid – done in the hope of creating social change. We know that 45% of people with disabilities in Australia live on or below the poverty line. Disability is often left out of discussions, this is also true for the queer community, or if it is discussed it is done so within a medical framework of deficit. I wanted to challenge this and get us thinking about it not as a personal tragedy but a sociopolitical question.

Highlights? Having a packed out audience for my presentation, fielding interesting questions and having Rowena Allen, the new Gender and Sexualities Commissioner approach me afterwards and express interest in having a day educating and exploring the issues for queers with disabilities. We are now in the throws of organising a forum for International Day of People with disabilities on December 3rd at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne to be attended by the disability sector and community members. I am also engaged in planning for future work with Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria providing disability training. Another highlight was attending the Brotherboys and Sistergirls workshop and learning more about that intersection.

 Mani Mitchell – ITANZ

HiD 2015 Day 3-124

From Left: Gina Wilson, Thomas Hamilton, and Mani Mitchell after the ‘Thriving in the Margins’ workshop at HiD2015

How did you benefit from attending HiD2015? The benefit for me was significant and quite hard to quantify. I was ‘tired and empty’ when I got to Australia (this year has been a tough year) I came away with a sense of revitalisation and focus. (A sense of hope about what we are doing) The chance to sit with, laugh and cry with some of the amazing people who work in our community!!

Being able to be with people – ask questions is so different from reading a report!

On a different level it was also a chance for me to sit and see ‘going up stream’ – in active action – I love this document – think it is an extraordinary vision for the future… but I also see how hard it is to ‘put into practice’ take that vision into a community – that in many cases probably does not even a) know about the document or b) really understand just what the document has as a vision. I could see elements at the conference – and understand how difficult it is to change/challenge the community to do its business differently… To be more inclusive, more aware, more gentle – to care.

Mary Rawson – Bisexual Alliance 

Mary Rawson

Mary Rawson and Warren Summers speaking during Mani Mitchell’s workshop.

I am a member of the Bisexual Alliance Committee, which is a volunteer run organisation, so it was great to be able to access funds to be able to attend the conference, as I had to take leave without pay from my job to attend.

I gained a lot of different insights in to what different organisations are doing in the LGBTI area. Interestingly, I found the informal chats with people at lunch time and in morning and afternoon breaks particularly informative. People would talk about things one on one (often regarding bisexuality-as I was wearing my ‘not gay, not straight, not lying’ badge!)) that weren’t talked about so much in the formal presentations.