Katoomba’s iconic Carrington Hotel hosted the 20th birthday celebrations of the Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) in August.

75 doctors and medical students from around Australia and NZ were welcomed to Gundungurra and Darug country by well-known locals, Aunty Carol Cooper and Jo Clancy from Wagana Dancers.

The conference’s theme “The Art of Medicine” gave scope to explore the creativity of members in an art exhibition that included every media from cake decorating to watercolours to illustrated anatomy notes and kiln formed glass.

Dr Claire Hooker from Sydney Health Ethics gave an overview of arts in health projects across the state with a special mention of local projects like the Young Women’s Clinic and art space at Blue Mountains Women’s Health and Resource Centre.

Sue Lightfoot, a retired senior police officer, spoke on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following years of investigating offences including traumatic incidents. She highlighted how photography had been the key to her journey of recovery.

ALMA is one of few Australian LGBTQI NGOs with special consultative status  with the Economic And Social Council of the United Nations and delegates heard how ALMA can improve human rights for LGBTQI people not just in Australia, but in countries in which same-sex relationships are still criminalized.

This was reinforced by Dr Jack Ganbaatar from the LGBT Centre in Mongolia who stressed the importance of Australian reforms such as marriage equality to the improvement of rights for LGBTQI people in Asia.

Dr Ruth McNair AM and Dr Liz Rickman presented on ALMAs work on Intersex issues and LGBTQI refugees and its work with the Pride Foundation’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Advisory Group.

Dr Rickman told delegates, “The Government needs to seriously review its handling of LGBTIQ refugees, both in assessing validity of entry, and in detention as these refugees are at a much higher risk for harm.”

ALMA is a support network for Australian and New Zealand lesbian doctors, medical students and their partners and is involved in advocacy and research to improve the health of lesbian and same-sex attracted women nationally and internationally.

ALMA also runs www.doclist.com.au, a list of health care professionals who have been recognised and recommended by women within the LGBTQI community.

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