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Record Carnival turnout
Melbourne’s queer cultural festival Midsumma attracted a record crowd at its annual Carnival Day on Sunday, with dance party T Dance similarly selling out.
Organisers estimated 100,000 people gathered at Carnival’s new location on three levels at Birrarung Marr, along the Yarra River.
Midsumma chair Lisa Watts told the Star Observer she was pleased with Carnival’s new position as she hailed the event a massive success.
“We’re really happy, it’s definitely a big crowd,” she said.
The day would have been made more historic with the attendance of Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu — the first premier to officially agree to attend the festival. After announcing late last week he would appear at the event, flooding in northern Victoria forced an urgent change to his schedule and a decision was made to send Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge in his place.
Attending her first Midsumma Carnival, Wooldridge told the Star Observer she was “loving it”.
“It’s amazing to see the support from the queer community, but the Melbourne community as a whole,” she said.
Wooldridge said the Government was in consultation with the GLBTI community to roll out a pre-election promise of $4 million to develop suicide prevention strategies for same-sex attracted young people.
“It’s still early days but we’ve got a clear commitment in place before the end of the year,” she said.
“We’ll be working with the GLBTI community to understand where the opportunities are, what the funding can go towards, to show we can work with young people in communities [and] improve inclusion through positive mental health outcomes with an overall objective [of] reducing youth suicide.”
Wooldridge said the Baillieu Government would build on projects developed by the former Brumby Government in Shepparton and Geelong to address GLBTI youth mental health issues.
“I think the important thing is that this can be done more broadly and touch more Victorians,” she said.
“So while there are good initiatives in Geelong and Shepparton, our concern is that they are only two communities. We hope to be much broader and more effective and touch more young people’s lives.”
Some queer celebrities’ faces stood out in the crowd, with television host Ruby Rose and Olympic diving champion Matthew Mitcham taking to the stage before enjoying the day with fellow festival-goers.
Also in attendance were actress Noni Hazlehurst, federal Greens MP Adam Bandt, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, Member for Prahran Clem Newton-Brown, and comedian Josh Thomas.
It’s understood Premier Baillieu will still attend a Midsumma event sometime during the three-week festival.
Annual post-Carnival dance party T Dance sold out, however, some punters complained about an increase in ticket prices and the organisation of drinks. Few complaints were made this year about the availability of amenities.