COVID 19 – UPDATES

CEO STATEMENT

Dear friends, partners, and colleagues,

As an organisation that was formed out of public health emergency, the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health remains ready to serve the health and wellbeing of our communities. Guided by public health best practice & ongoing advice, we have taken several steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) while continuing to provide our essential services. We are closely monitoring and evaluating guidance from the Health Department at both State and Federal levels and will update you as our response evolves – which we know it will.

Supporting the health and wellness of all our communities is paramount as the local and national response to COVID-19 continues to rapidly change. From our Brisbane and Cairns premises, we, along with our community partner organisations, provide many essential community services that are needed now more than ever including practical daily supports for the most vulnerable members of our communities, general medical and mental health supports, Recovery support, social support groups and sexual health supplies.

The determination to cancel or reduce programs that people rely on is an ongoing challenge. However, as we make decisions regarding levels of risk, we do this to lessen the risk of greater challenges and consequences in the future.

Our Facebook pages are being kept up to date, along with those pages for our community partners and those who use our premises in both Brisbane and Cairns, and provides the best place to check for program changes and closures.

During this time, we will do our best to keep you informed as the COVID-19 responses evolve but I also encourage you to seek out your own information and advice.

We have also released an important statement on transmission of COVID-19 in relation to sexual activity. You can see this statement below.

We invite anyone seeking support or connection to services to email us at info@quac.org.au which will be monitored from Monday to Friday.

 PROGRAMS & SERVICES UPDATES

 At this time:

  • Clinic 30 at Helen Street is open to provide essential services as we are are committed to seeing our communities through this period. Until further notice we have cancelled our Testing Point Tuesday night walk in STI/HIV testing clinic. If you need an appointment please ring 07 3017 1777, and please do not come into the Clinic to book an appointment as we are not taking any walk ins at this time. See our Facebook page for information on important new processes.
  • Our Mental Health and Case Management services will continue to be provided however our appointments are being conducted via online technologies.
  • We have stopped our ‘in person’ Volunteer activities for the foreseeable future – however, our work would not be possible without our amazing and dedicated volunteers and we are currently planning a range of new online activities with our volunteers. We will be communicating updates on those soon.
  • We have made the difficult but important decision that our premises at both Helen Street and Draper Street are no longer available for community groups and bookings. However we are always available to discuss how we can support our vital community groups to remain connected online and through virtual meetings. Email info@quac.org.au to discuss how we can support you.
  • Anyone who is sick with flu like symptoms, or who has had close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, is asked not to come to our premises at Helen Street or Draper Street.  If you have an existing appointment with us and need to cancel, please cancel online or by calling 07 3017 1777. Anyone with symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath is being asked to contact their primary GP or the COVID-19 hotline.

Rebecca Reynolds
CEO
Queensland Council for LGBTI Health (Formerly Queensland AIDS Council)​

 

CLICK ON USEFUL LINKS BELOW: 

The Queensland Council for LGBTI Health statement on 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and sexual activity.

 
View our Sex and COVID-19 posters here

Shigella is on the rise in 2020.

There have recently been higher than usual cases of shigella within the Brisbane and the Gold Coast region among gay, bi men and  men who have sex with men. Shigella (shigellosis) is a common diarrhoeal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Learn more about symptoms, transmission and prevention here.  

Talking Heals Campaign Launched

Talking Heals. Yarns Heal.

Today we launched the Talking Heals campaign as part of the National Suicide Prevention Trial. The Trial involves various community activities and a campaign made possible by funding from Brisbane North PHN and contributions from Brisbane South PHN.

Increasing rates of suicide and self-harm in our LGBTIQ+, Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities challenged us to think about new ways to have useful conversations.  We have worked with many partners and collaborators to get to this point so we thank them all and look forward to sharing more of the campaign in the coming weeks. We also acknowledge the huge efforts of the Yarns Heal team and thank them for such fruitful collaboration as we’ve worked side by side to develop Suicide Prevention Campaigns for the broader LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy communities of greater Brisbane. 

A refreshed Talking Heals website will be part of this campaign highlighting specialist LGBTIQ+ services in the greater Brisbane area who can provide advice and support to LGBTIQ+ people and Sistergirls and Brotherboys.

A special thanks also to all of our talented and generous artists who have been with us from the start. Your patience, passion and generosity warms our collective heart. Thank you for sharing your art and stories.

We look forward to sharing more of the campaign as it goes live.

We also encourage anyone who is struggling, whatever the reasons, to seek support.

If you are in an emergency or at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please contact emergency services on 000.

Here are some numbers and contacts that you might find helpful:

Qlife: 1800 184 527 (3pm-midnight)
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467.
Confidential 1800Respect Helpline: 1800 737 732
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

Health Direct: To speak to a registered nurse, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

Our Suicide Prevention Campaign

Talking Heals. Yarns Heal.

As part of the National Suicide Prevention Trial we will launch our Suicide Prevention Campaign this month. The Trial involves various community activities and a campaign made possible by funding from Brisbane North PHN and contributions from Brisbane South PHN.

We will reveal more about the campaign later this week.

We encourage anyone who is struggling, whatever the reasons, to seek support.

Here are some numbers and contacts that you might find helpful:

Qlife: 1800 184 527 (3pm-midnight)
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467.
Confidential 1800Respect Helpline: 1800 737 732
Mensline: 1300 78 99 78
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

Health Direct: To speak to a registered nurse, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

WORLD AIDS DAY DECEMBER 1ST 2019

On the 1stof December each year, we pause to reflect on our progress in the fight against HIV. We remember those we lost and commit to supporting those still living with HIV today. It is also a time to reflect on our progress towards the goal of reaching zero HIV transmissions.

World AIDS Day means different things to different people. For some, a time to remember and reflect on the past and a time to commit to reaching zero transmissions. For others, it is also a time to celebrate the strength and diversity of the different communities affected by HIV in Australia.

WAD 2019: Every Journey Counts

The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 is ‘Every Journey Counts’.

Every journey and way to mark World AIDS Day matters.

As it has for a number of years now, the Queensland World AIDS Day Alliance (QWADA) continues to work together to implement a range of activities to mark World AIDS Day across the state.

Candlelight Vigils

Among the events across the state, a candlelight vigil will be held on December 1 from 6.45pm at Captain Burke Park, 117 Holman St at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. This event takes place under the Story Bridge, illuminated in red to mark World AIDS Day. The vigil is a chance to reflect and remember all those lost since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The candlelight vigil is free to attend and does not require booking.

In Cairns, the local World AIDS Day planning committee organises a vigil. The Queensland AIDS Council is a member of the committee.

Brisbane and Queensland events CLICK HERE:  Facebook.com/QLDAIDSCouncil

Cairns and North Queensland events CLICK HERE Facebook.com/QuACNQ/

 

Events the length and breadth of Queensland

Each and every year volunteers, services, groups, and businesses come together to mark World AIDS Day across Queensland. See a list of events for World AIDS Day 2019 right across Queensland at www.worldaidsday.org.au/events

“World AIDS Day is an amazing example of community, services and governments coming together to not only remember the past, but recommit to a future free of new HIV diagnoses and providing strong supports and services for people living with HIV in Queensland, and across the entire country”, Rebecca Reynolds, QuAC Chief Executive Officer said.

“The communities impacted by HIV are strong, diverse and resilient, but we all have a role to play on World AIDS Day to stand with them – whether that is wearing red on the day or having a red ribbon on your shirt, talking with the people in your life about HIV and the importance of World AIDS Day, or coming along to an event to stand in solidarity and remembrance together”.

It is important to remember on this World AIDS Day that every journey to HIV prevention also matters.

There are now a range of different approaches to gay men and men who have sex with men taking control of their own sexual health and preventing the onward transmission of HIV. This includes condoms, or using PrEP (a prevention strategy where an HIV negative person takes treatment before exposure to HIV). Regular sexual health testing is a crucial element of all prevention strategies.

#ComePrepd

Rebecca Reynolds said “QuAC’s #ComePrepd campaign answers a lot of the questions people might have around PrEP. By sharing real stories, it enables people to make up their own mind as to whether PrEP is right for them”.

The website can be found at www.comeprepd.info

Another significant development in HIV prevention is for people living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load. That makes it virtually impossible to pass on the virus, which is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

In Queensland, 97% of gay men report an undetectable viral load and they make a significant contribution to HIV prevention.

So whether you are remembering the past and those we have lost, considering what steps you can take to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination, or you are thinking about what HIV prevention means to you, the 1st of December is a time for our diverse communities to pause and reflect together.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILLS : AN OVERVIEW

On 29 August 2019, the Australian Government released a package of radical legislative reforms on religious freedom. These Religious Freedoms Bills go far beyond protecting people of faith from discrimination in line with Australia’s other anti-discrimination law. They introduce special entitlements for people of faith and erode anti-discrimination protection for others.

In 2017 our LGBTI communities fought for – and won – marriage equality. Now we need to once again fight for equality alongside other communities who will be adversely affected by these laws, including women, people of colour and people with a disability.

In early September, the Queensland AIDS Council held a statewide community forum to discuss the response of our LGBTI communities these proposed laws. As a result of this community consultation we have prepared some resources to let people know more about the negative impact of these proposed laws and to encourage people to action.

Learn more:

Take action:

1. Provide a brief submission to the Attorney-General’s Department explaining why you are opposed to some or all of these proposed laws. Email your submission to FoRConsultation@ag.gov.au using this template. Use the Useful Religious Freedom Bills Talking Points document as the basis for your submission. You can even just copy and paste that text into the template.

2. Share the above resources on social media and with your friends and family.

3. Call, email, fax, or go to see your Member of Parliament or Senator. Again, use the Useful Religious Freedom Bills Talking Points document as the basis for your submission. If you’re not sure who your Member of Parliament is, you can search by postcode here. The Senators for Queensland are listed here.

4. Sign a petition: Equality Australia and just.equal.

5. Support QuAC’s campaign by making a donation.

Connect with other organisations:

 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS : INFO SESSION THIS WED 4TH SEPT

LEARN WHAT THE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BILLS COULD MEAN FOR LGBTI PEOPLE

There’s been a lot of talk about the Australian Government’s legislative reforms on religious freedoms, and what the changes may mean for LGBTI Sistergirl and Brotherboy people.

At 6pm on Wednesday 4th September the QuAC Brisbane and Cairns offices will be hosting a statewide community information session on the reforms and QuAC’s response to the changes. Come along to learn more and share your stories.

To register to attend the Brisbane session email Jan at JThwaites@quac.org.au, to register to attend the Cairns session, email cns@quac.org.au

The reason for the information session is the Federal Government has released the draft Religious Freedom bills for consultation before they are introduced to Parliament. The consultation period for the bills is very short, with submissions closing on 2nd October.

QuAC is hosting the session In order to outline the changes and what they mean for LGBTI communities and provide community members with an opportunity to share their views. QuAC President Peter Black will outline the proposed changes.

The session will be hosted in the Brisbane Office with the Cairns office participating by video conference, and the meeting will be accessible to anyone else in Queensland via a zoom meeting link.

It would be appreciated if you could promote the information session to your contacts. The zoom link to share with any of your contacts who would like to join by video is https://zoom.us/j/5625154367

If you require further information on how you can join the videoconference of the session, email Jan at  JThwaites@quac.org.au

Vincent’s Transgender PrEP Story

Starting PrEP was an important decision that allowed me to take ownership of my own sexual health. Speaking to my GP in an open and honest way about my sex life has made me better informed about my health and also set a precedent with my GP that our doctor-patient relationship is safe and accepting.

I am a gay transgender man which makes my body and sex life different from that of cisgender male. This was an important thing to consider and discuss with my GP when accessing prep. A lot of sexual health campaigns are cis normative (meaning they are primarily aimed at people who identify with the sex they were assigned at birth). Finding relevant information for me, a man with a vagina has always been difficult. One of the main reasons I started prep was because I learnt that taking testosterone can increase the chances of vaginal bleeding during sex, making HIV transmission more likely.

It was important to me when first researching PrEP that my doctor would be able to discuss it in a way that was relevant to my body, sexuality and identity. I opened this dialogue with a doctor who I knew was LGBT friendly and specifically, was literate on gender identity. This made a big impact on me in my initial consultation as I wasn’t required to define or explain things about my body that he didn’t understand, and I felt safe in his care. I would stress to any transgender person looking to access PrEP that you speak with a doctor who is LGBT friendly and approach the topic from a place of openness and honesty.

I have been taking PrEP since June 2018 and access it through a local pharmacy (on PBS) that I know to be well stocked and LGBT friendly. I know PrEP can also be accessed online and this is cheaper, however I’ve never been organised enough to take that route myself. I have encountered no real obstacles in my access to PrEP, it has been a very smooth process however that has been contingent on the fact that my healthcare providers are trans-friendly and well informed. I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable discussing PrEP or my sexual health in general with a doctor outside of my existing network.

The benefits of PrEP are clear, it is a fairly risk free, safe way to prevent the transmission of HIV. This benefit applies to everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender identity however I personally consider it part of a larger effort to understand and take ownership of sexual health as it relates to my body. Because it has been such a positive experience, it has made me more comfortable talking about other sexual health concerns such as contraception and STIs.

This quest for knowledge is one I believe every transgender person should embark on. Our bodies are quite unique and often general health information or public health campaigns won’t consider us. Overcoming this barrier requires regular and open engagement with competent and well informed healthcare professionals. I encourage all trans men to have an open and honest conversation with an LGBTI friendly doctor. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to be your own advocate.

If you prefer to copy Vincent’s story from comeprepd please go ahead!

See Vincent’s story and everything you need to know about PrEP at: https://www.comeprepd.info

 

PRIVATE LIVES 3 VALUES YOUR INPUT

Private Lives 3 is a national study that explores the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTIQ) people living in Australia. This study will provide much-needed data to inform health, support, and other services, as well as deliver a better understanding of the experiences of LGBTIQ people today. It is conducted by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University, and is funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services.

Who can take part?

You are invited to complete this survey if you are aged 18 years or older, living in Australia, and identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex, or other related identities.

 How long does it take?

The survey should take 30-40 minutes to complete.

The third iteration of “Private Lives”, Australia’s largest national survey of the health and well-being of LGBTIQ+ people, is now in progress. If you are LGBTIQ+, over 18, and living in Australia, this is your chance to make your voice count. Click on the link below to begin:

www.privatelives3.org.au