Local LGBTI inclusion network celebrates diversity

Wednesday 09 August 2017


Pictured (Front row): Helen Page (Bass Coast Health Health Promotion Manager), Marianne Joy (Wonthaggi Justice Service Centre), Greg Tingate (Bass Coast Health Manager of Health, Safety & Emergency Management), Daniel Witthaus (LGBTI Roadshow presenter), Fiona Passarin (YMCA), Siona Jones (Bass Coast Shire Council Social Planning Policy Officer) and Ian Turnnidge (Cowes Uniting Church Minister).

Pictured (Back row): Geoff Ellis (Bass Coast Shire Councillor), Robert Gresham (Bass Coast Health Older Person’s Nurse Practitioner), Sally Conning (LGBTI advocate), Ro Allen (Victorian Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality) and Gemma Van Gisbergen (Bass Coast Shire Council Social & Community Planning Administration Officer).


It’s been three months since the LGBTI Equality Roadshow came to Wonthaggi during their extensive tour of Victoria’s rural and regional towns. The Victorian Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen recently returned with her Equality Roadshow team to acknowledge and congratulate the advocacy work being undertaken by and for the local LGBTI community. 


An inspired group of local residents have formed the South Coast Inclusion Network (SCIN) with a mission to advocate on behalf of LGBTI individuals and families so that sexual and gender diversity can be acknowledged and celebrated.

Diversity is present in every person and every place in Australia. Data indicates that in rural and regional areas of Australia sexual and gender diversity is equal to or even greater than in our cities, with around 11% of young people identifying as either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Despite this fact, the LGBTI community live under a cloak of invisibility when it comes to our local schools, communities and services.

Bass Coast Health (BCH) Health Promotion Team Leader and SCIN facilitator Helen Page comments, “There exists a significant lack of recognition and awareness of the relationships and lived experiences of LGBTI individuals and families. The National LBGTI Health Alliance has undertaken extensive research into the health impacts of social exclusion on LGBTI people. These include feeling unsafe, suffering from addiction and psychological distress, and an increased risk of self-harming, suicide attempts and mental illness. LGBTI young people living in rural, regional and remote Australia are more at risk of social exclusion and over 14 times more likely to attempt suicide as a result”.

The SCIN recognises that a lot can be done to make a difference for LGBTI people of all ages living in Bass Coast and South Gippsland. SCIN founding members include representatives from Bass Coast Shire, Bass Coast Health, Cowes Uniting Church, West Gippsland Library Corporation and LGBTI community members. SCIN priorities include creating safe spaces for LGBTI people, increasing access to resources and working with local health and community services to provide a more inclusive and welcoming environment.

For more information or to submit an Expression of Interest in being part of the SCIN group, please contact Helen.page@basscoasthealth.org.au.