SAFE QLD SCHOOLS FOR LGBTIQ STUDENTS ACTION GROUP

On Monday 1st September, Daniel travelled north to Brisbane to speak to the ‘Safe Queensland Schools for LGBTIQ students’ Action Group, hosted by the Queensland Teachers’ Union.  Teachers, health professionals and LGBTIQ locals came from across SE Queensland, including Ipswich and the Gold Coast, to hear what could be done to better support LGBTI young people and to challenge everyday homophobia.

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CARDINIA & TASKFORCE LGBTI FORUM

On Thursday 28th August, Daniel braved the thick fog on the outskirts of Melbourne to keynote the Cardinia Shire & Taskforce LGBTI Forum for local teachers, health professionals and homophobia-curious others.  Also presenting was LGBTI sporting personality, Jason Ball.  Safe Schools Coalition Victoria then helped facilitate brainstorming sessions about what could be done locally.

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BEYOND PRISCILLA @ FULLERS HOBART

On Thursday 14th August Daniel was joined by 55 locals at Fullers Bookshop, Hobart, for a reading and signing of Beyond Priscilla.  After an opening address by Tasmania’s most famous LGBTI activist, Rodney Croome, Daniel shared a few sections of his tales from across regional, rural and remote Australia.

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NICHE REPORT: VISIT TO TASMANIA

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.

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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.

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Additionally, there was positive coverage before, during and after the tour, including:
- ABC Hobart
https://soundcloud.com/936-abc-hobart/chaplaincy-provider-books-anti-homophobia-educator
- The Mercury
http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/working-to-make-it-safe-to-come-out/story-fnj4f7k1-1227033429309
- The Examiner
http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2478024/author-working-to-combat-homophobia/

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.

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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.

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Recommendations
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
    Opportunities
    - 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.

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SPECIAL THANKS
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.

SKILLING RURAL MEDICAL STUDENTS: UNI OF MELBOURNE

On Friday 8th August, Daniel joined Dr Vincent Cornelisse at the University of Melbourne in a lecture for rural medical students and the University’s LGBTI students.  The aim was to share their experiences about rural LGBTI people’s health, as well as what LGBTI doctors and other health professionals themselves say about living, working and recreating in regional, rural and remote Australia.

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The lecture was well attended, considering the Friday evening time-slot just before a popular student party, and was organised by AMSA, the Australian Medical Students’ Association, recognising a significant gap in a sexual health short course.  Thanks also to the rural health club, Outlook (who are thanked for this photo).

MY SON, MY DAUGHTER, MYSELF: BOOK LAUNCH

Daniel was honoured to help Irish-born, Australian resident, Martin McCormick, launch his father’s book, ‘My Son, My Daughter, Myself’ on Wednesday 6th August.  The 89th floor of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower was packed for the culmination of many years of work by Peter McCormick and, in subsequent years, his son Martin.

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Written following the coming out of both his son and daughter in southern Ireland, Peter McCormick wanted only to help other parents find support (he himself could not find support locally).

‘My Son, My Daughter, Myself’ is a collection of letters and essays from Peter’s family, friends and associates, and is the first that Daniel can recall coming from such a wide range of perspectives about the same family.

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Find out more and get your copy here: myson-mydaughter-myself.org

TASMANIA-WIDE VISIT

As part of Daniel Witthaus’ ongoing work with the National Institute for Challenging Homophobia Education (NICHE), he will be spending a week in Tasmania, and not just in Hobart and Launceston.
NICHE logo Final_outline-04Sunday 10 August
3:00 – 5:00pm         Marriage Equality Workshop, Riverview Hotel, 43 Charles St, Launceston
Monday 11 August
9:00 – 10:15am       Student (and teacher) workshop, Launceston College, Launceston
10:30 – 12:30pm     Open Forum: all welcome, Launceston College, Launceston
Tuesday 12 August
10:30 – 12:30pm     Presentation, West Coast Service Providers Network , Zeehan
Afternoon                 TBC: Roseberry HS, Queenstown HS
Wednesday 13 August
10:40 – 12:15pm      Open Forum: all welcome, Don College, Devonport
1:20 – 2:50pm          Open Forum: all welcome, Hellyer College, Burnie
3:00 – 4:00pm           Students (and teacher) workshop, Hellyer College, Burnie
Thursday 14 August
10:30 – 1:00pm         Open Forum: all welcome, Hobart City Council, Elizabeth Street
5:00 – 7:00pm            Beyond Priscilla Book Launch, Fullers Bookshop, Collins St, Hobart
Friday 14 August
9:00am                        Meeting: Peter Swift, Scripture Union, Hobart
3:30 – 4:30pm            Presentation, Office of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner

For a running sheet of Daniel’s Tasmanian visit, click here: niCHe Schedule Tassie

To find out more about Daniel’s rural visits and how you can get involved, click here:
NICHE Rural Visit One Pager

BEYOND PRISCILLA: HOBART LAUNCH

Beyond Priscilla: one gay man, one gay truck, one big idea…

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5:00pm for a 5:30pm start.
Thursday 14th August
Fullers Bookshop, 131 Collins Street, Hobart, Tasmania 7000

Join Daniel Witthaus as he details his 266-consecutive day drive through regional, rural and remote Australia to challenge homophobia one cuppa at a time.

Meet Daniel, grab a signed copy and enjoy a wine after work.

RSVP: rsvp@fullersbookshop.com.au