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Gillard supports ChillOut
Victoria’s queer regional festival ChillOut has received a message of support from Australia’s prime minister for the first time in its 16-year history.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard sent the message to organisers, wishing the upcoming four-day festival well.
“From small beginnings back in 1997 in beautiful Daylesford, [ChillOut] has become a remarkable public event dedicated to celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer pride within a unique rural setting,” Gillard said.
“Like its older big city cousins Mardi Gras and Midsumma, ChillOut is about building community and welcoming diversity, at the same time raising money for some wonderful causes and giving a boost to regional tourism as well.
“I hope the success of this festival will be a symbol of pride for everyone involved.”
Since 1997 ChillOut has raised more than $100,000 for local charities and is thought to boost the local economy by $8 million a year.
ChillOut president Michael Brady told the Star Observer the festival was pleased to have the PM’s support.
“We’re rapt about that, it’s a real switch of attitudes in the Labor Party to start supporting LGBT events like they have, so we’re really hoping this might be the start of a bigger change,” he said.
Brady said an action-packed long weekend is in store for March 9-12, saying ChillOut’s signature events, including Carnival Day, the dance party and the bush dance, are set to be highlights.
Brady said his fingers were crossed for sunny weather and organisers expect crowds of 20–25,000.
“We’ve had heavy rain for the past two years and [crowds will] depend a lot on the weather, which is something out of our control, but a lot of our events are indoors so ChillOut will go on regardless,” he said.
Carnival Day on Sunday, March 11 is the biggest day of the festival, with cabaret icon Paul Capsis set to perform, along with GH dance troupe Boylesque and alt-country band Sal Kimber and the Rollin’ Wheel.
The inaugural ChillOut race day at the NMIT Kyneton Park racetrack on March 10 is also set to be popular.
Brady said the festival has the support of locals, saying past fundraising efforts have helped win the community over.
“Our funding of the anti-bullying program that goes into all the local primary schools has been particularly welcome,” he said. “If we can stop one teenage suicide from homophobic bullying, the whole community wins.”
This year ChillOut will support the local State Emergency Services branch.
INFO: Tickets for events are on sale now. www.chilloutfestival.com.au