CHIRP reaches out to LGBTI community
CHIRP Community Health’s recent Rainbow Tick Accreditation shows the organisation has gone from LGBTI friendly to LGBTI inclusive.
To further improve inclusivity, a new position was created in October at CHIRP under Working For Victoria funding, and Sherene Clow was appointed as LGBTIQA+ Engagement Officer.
This role has enabled CHIRP to be responsive to the needs of the LGBTI Community in the Mount Alexander Shire and beyond.
Sherene hit the ground running, and her first response was to initiate Rainbow Steps, an LGBTI friendly walking group.
“It was a COVID-19 safe activity that linked community back together and added to the already active walking groups CHIRP had on offer,” Sherene said.
“Each week since mid–November a small group have gathered to do one to two laps at the Botanical Gardens on a Tuesday morning.
“Meanwhile I created a survey to see what the LGBTI community wanted and needed.”
The answers were clear.
“Social support, both specific and broad was needed to be organised and delivered,” Sherene said.
“In a broad sense there were requests for regular get-togethers where we could be around people and families like our own. More specifically, there were three main groups of focus.”
These were the aging LGBTI population who had been further isolated by COVID-19, Trans and Gender Diverse people who clearly needed social support, but also their families, their carers and their partners were needing support and social opportunities, and Rainbow Families, who would also like to see regular meet ups for their kids to see other families like their own.
“Already some small advances have been made by CHIRP partnering with other organisations to meet some of these gaps,” Sherene said.
“Cobaw Community Health, have offered to team up with us and share their up–and–running Trans and Gender Diverse support group across both shires alternating month to month.
“December sees our second face–to–face meeting in Kyneton but we are pleased to announce that next month, with the help of Castlemaine Community House, we will host our first group in Castlemaine.”
The Castlemaine Theatre Royal has also partnered up with CHIRP to throw an LGBTI Christmas Pizza party on Sunday at 5pm in the Courtyard.
“Ongoing from there a once-a-month Friday LGBTI gathering called Yellow Brick Road will be on offer for any LBGTI community members or allies to attend and make new connections or re-establish lost ones after the year we have had,” Sherene said.
“These are initial steps but certainly steps in the right direction.”
If you or someone you love would like to join or attend any of these groups you are certainly welcome to do so. Anyone needing additional support or help is encouraged to contact CHIRP about counselling services, alcohol and other drug programs and housing services on 5479 1000.