In mid-August 2014, the National Institute for Challenging Homophobia Education (NICHE) partnered with Relationships Australia Tasmania (RA Tas) to provide a week of opportunities for educators, health professionals and homophobia-curious others. The Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group (TGLRG) and Australian Marriage Equality (AME) also worked with NICHE to promote its visit in the media and create further meetings.


The highlights of NICHE’s visit to Tasmania included (attendees in parentheses):
- Facilitating an AME workshop in Launceston (25);
- A workshop focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) support and leadership for students from Launceston and Newstead College (15), , Don College (140) and Hellyer College (24);
- Professional development on LGBTI support and challenging homophobia for educators and health professionals in Launceston (35), Burnie (25) and Hobart (40);
- Presentations on NICHE and LGBTI support to the West Coast Service Providers Network (Zeehan; 25) and the Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner (8);
- Meetings with the Education Minister, Secretary of the Department of Education Tasmania, Chaplaincy Development Manager and Chair of the Scripture Union Tasmania and the CEO of RA Tas;
- Secondary consultation on LGBTI clients: West Coast Service Providers (2);
- A book reading of Beyond Priscilla at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart (55).

The NICHE visit to Tasmania saw direct contact with 395 people.


Additionally, there was positive coverage before, during and after the tour, including:
- ABC Hobart
- The Mercury
- The Examiner

Those that came into contact with NICHE over this week were not dissimilar to those around the country in regional, rural and remote Australia: they invariably said it was “about bloody time” that LGBTI issues were addressed in their part of Tasmania. More often than not, participants did not need much convincing that there was an opportunity to better support LGBTI people as part of their role, and there was an eagerness to find out what practical tools and strategies worked best.


Key moments

  1. West Coast Service Providers Meeting, Zeehan
    After the meeting finished, a local health professional approached to discuss the presentation.
    “I just had to come and say thank you. Thank GOD you’re here. I’m here because my colleague refused to attend. Let’s just say he had a few choice words when he found out you were speaking…I was quite surprised actually. He thought it was more political, so I’ll be very happy, let me tell you, to go back and tell him it was easy-to-follow, relevant and easy-to-use. Look, my best counselling tool sometimes is a 4×2, but I can’t always use it.” 
  1. Don College, Devonport
    An open invitation to attend a student workshop at Don College was offered to all its feeder schools. In what was a pleasant surprise, 140 students and supporting teachers would fill the school hall. The Principal of Don College approached before the workshop to offer his apologies, as he was required that morning in Burnie. He added that he’d stay for about 10 minutes.The Principal would end up staying until the end of the workshop, approaching to offer his congratulations:
    “Teachers are traditionally very difficult to teach, but you have such an easy style and that’d be perfect for my teachers. Could you do exactly that for us?”
  1. Launceston College, Launceston
    During a workshop attended by social workers, youth workers, health promotion workers, counsellors and school chaplains, one social worker spoke for many when she talked about a reflection from the workshop:
    “I need to revisit that feeling of being young, awkward and uncomfortable with something in order to better understand how I can better support young people.”
  1. Social Worker, West Coast
    Following a Living Well & Dying Well expo in Roseberry, one worker from the West asked to have a cuppa to discuss a complex case involving a trans client. Her concern was apparent.After some basic pointers, recommendations for helpful resources and affirmation of that worker’s practice, she said that there were practical things she could work on straight away:
    “I can do that!”
  1. Hellyer College, Burnie
    During a student workshop, on that school’s Wear It Purple Day, a same-sex attracted man was asked what he wanted to change in the school. He was clear, and responded immediately:
    “That a teacher will jump on ‘that’s so gay’ the same way they do S-H-I-T. I can whisper ‘shit’ across a noisy, crowded cafeteria and get in trouble, yet someone will be screaming ‘faggot’ next to their ear and they’ll do nothing. Explain that to me.” 

    At the end of a student workshop, this same-sex attracted young man approached:
    “I just have to say that it’s insane that you are here. It’s just insane, that you do this in country schools. I just can’t thank you enough for all this work you do, that you can come somewhere like this. You don’t know what it means. Really, it’s just insa…” 

    That young man’s voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears. 

    Note: a comprehensive document outlining feedback from various participants has been collated by Sharon Jones, LGBTI Suicide Prevention Project Officer for the (Northern Tasmania), RA Tas.


After discussions during and after NICHE’s Tasmanian visit with RA Tas’s LGBTI Suicide Prevention Project Officer North, Sharon Jones, there appears to extend the partnership with RA Tas, in order to work on both the West and East Coasts.

This would involve a three-stage project with minimal investment required.

  1. Stage One: Coastal Visits
    What: One-week visit by NICHE and RA Tas to the West and East Coast, to provide presentations, basic professional development, secondary consultations and to map services, safety and partnership opportunities.
    When: late 2014
    Resources: in-kind support from RA Tas, contribution to NICHE’s travel costs and time
  1. Stage Two: LGBTI Intervention (Support & Safety)
    What: One-week follow-up visit by NICHE and RA Tas to the West and East Coast, to provide opportunities to build on the capacity of those two areas and provide more in-depth professional development and partnership development.
    When: first half of 2015
    Resources: in-kind support from RA Tas, contribution to NICHE’s travel costs and time
  1. Stage Three: Following-Up
    What: One-week visit by NICHE and RA Tas to the West and East Coast, to
    When: second half of 2015
    Resources: in-kind support from RA Tas, contribution to NICHE’s travel costs and time
    - Roseberry and Queenstown High Schools both expressed interest in NICHE working with their schools;
    - Pride & Prejudice Facilitator Training (interest from the Education Department);
    - the ‘oi!’ challenging homophobia campaign that NICHE launched on IDAHO(BIT) 2014.



This visit to Tasmania by the National Institute for Challenging Homophobia Education could not have happened without the generous support and established networks of:

  • Relationships Australia Tasmania, especially the expertise, local knowledge and reputation (and company) of Sharon Jones;
  • Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group/Australian Marriage Equality, especially the expertise, local knowledge and reputation of Rodney Croome.

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