To mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) the Victorian Government announced a national weekend retreat for trans and gender diverse Aboriginal people to be held at the end of this year.
The Kunghah: Brotherboys and Sistergirls Retreat aims to create a safe space for trans and gender diverse Indigenous people to share their experiences, knowledge, resources and address community issues. ‘Kunghah’, means “gathering” in Ngarigo, from the Monaro and Australian Alpine regions of NSW and Victoria.
Gender and sexuality commissioner, Rowena Allen says that the Kunghah will give vulnerable people the opportunity to meet others with similar aspirations and/or challenges, and facilitate insightful discussions on the issues that matter most to Indigenous LGBTIQ people, telling the Star Observer:
“It is vital to cater to diversity within diversity within our community, by providing opportunities not only for LGBTI people and for Aboriginal people, but for those who are both.”
The retreat was developed by the Victorian government following the successful 2015 Victorian Koorie Youth Summit, where an in-depth consolation was held which discussed ways to service Victoria's Aboriginal community.
“Strong communities value and celebrate a range of differences, this is what makes Victoria such a welcoming and diverse place to live,” said Minister for Equality Martin Foley to the Star Observer.
The summit publication also reported that Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins said that the retreat will be important in allowing Aboriginal people to set the agenda.
“It’s fantastic to see the development of this idea following the Koorie Youth Summit last month,” she said. “This is about Victorian Aboriginals being the leaders and decision makers of their own community.”
While this is the first national event for trans and gender diverse Aboriginal people, funded by a government incentive, smaller organisations around the country have been shedding light on, and helping assist with, the needs of Indigenous LGBTIQ people.
Sisters and Brothers NT, is a cross-cultural advocacy support group, based in the Northern Territory who have been working towards positive action for at risk LGBTIQ Aboriginal people. Throughout its history, it has held workshops, conferences and continued to provide support to people of different sexual preferences and gender identities.