• Victoria's Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality Ro Allen addresses the participants of at the Kunghah retreat. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Sistagirls, brotherboys and gender diverse mob gathered in Melbourne last weekend for Kunghah, a national retreat hosted by Australia’s first Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality (Vic) Ro Allen.
Karina Marlow

26 Nov 2016 - 11:35 AM  UPDATED 28 Nov 2016 - 10:47 AM

The event saw 67 delegates of all ages, including 42 from inter-state, gather in Brunswick for workshops, celebration and networking opportunities.

Kunghah was held on Friday to Sunday, 18th-20th of November and coincided with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance. ‘Kunghah’, means “gathering” in Ngarigo the language of the Monaro and Alpine regions of NSW and Victoria.

Aunty Di, a Wurundjeri Elder welcomed the participants to country with a smoking ceremony, followed by a dinner with Elders and other guests including the Commissioner Ro Allen and the all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kunghah Steering Committee.

Some of the workshops held included a discussion on dating and relationships, a health chat with a local GP and cultural activities such as weaving and a yarning circle. Participants were also treated to some pampering with make-overs courtesy of Bachelorette Beauty Services complete with manicures, haircuts and make up.

The Saturday night was a chance to relax and share stories with a screening of 'Kumu Hina', a documentary film about a transgender native Hawaiian woman, and an Open Mic night.

The final day of the retreat coincided with the International Transgender Day of Remembrance and provided an opportunity for reflection and healing.

Zac from Sydney, who was one of several participants to receive a scholarship to attend the retreat, said that the general response to the event was very positive.

“The biggest thing people got out of it was a sense of security, healing, and community… just being around other LGBT Aboriginal folks and knowing that you aren't alone in this journey, ya know?"

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.

When the retreat was announced in May this year, Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Ro Allen said 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.  

“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,” she told the Star Observer

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