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Successful breakfast forum held

A special education breakfast forum, organised by an IELLEN-chaired partnership, was held on August 7, attracting a capacity crowd to the Prahran Town Hall.

The forum, entitled "Same sex attracted and gender diverse young people – inclusive practice, best practice" brought together a broad cross section of schools – government, independent and Catholic - as well as a range of service providers. In all, more than seventy people attended.

IELLEN's Andrew Neophytou, who is Chair of the Network that organised the forum, gave the opening remarks and was also MC. He thanked key network partners, most of whom were also presenters:

"The work being done by our network, by our speakers, and by many of you here, it still matters, and needs to continue. Each of today's panellists, committed and informed, are making a difference," said Andrew.

The youth-focused SSAGD Network, which covers five LGAs, aims to foster greater community awareness and inclusive practice. It also brings together stakeholders to share information, identify service and policy gaps, all with the aim of creating a safer, more inclusive community for same sex attracted and gender questioning young people.

The audience heard from the following speakers, who also took questions from the floor:

  • Rainbow Network - Lottie Turner
  • Safe Schools Coalition Victoria - Joel Radcliffe
  • Minus18 - Micah Scott
  • Melbourne High School - Jennifer Mill
  • Zoe Belle Gender Centre - Zoe Birkinshaw
  • Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council Inc. - Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli

More than one presenter highlighted research showing that SSAGQ young people continue to be on the receiving end of unacceptably high levels of verbal and also of physical abuse. Most of the verbal abuse occurs within school gates.

On a more positive note, speakers outlined strategies and practical measures for improvement and inclusive practices. For example, Jennifer Mill, Student Wellbeing Coordinator, from Melbourne High School, spoke about the broad range of policies and activities at this secondary school.

At the forum, Andrew also highlighted the work done by several other schools, acknowledging their representation at the forum. These included Mac.Robertson High. Both Melbourne and MacRob are also members of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria.

The youth-focused SSAGD network has an executive comprising the IELLEN, City of Stonnington and the BGK LLEN. Of the 31 LLENs in Victoria, the Inner Eastern LLEN and the BGK LLEN are at the forefront of responses to the needs of same sex attracted and gender questioning young people.

Further information: Andrew Neophytou, Senior Partnership Broker, 9510 5444

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