Recognising the inspiring work in Victoria’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities, the sixth annual GLOBE Community Awards was a smashing success last night, as people put on their glad rags and celebrated the people and organisations that do so much to make our community stronger.

“I want to congratulate every nominee and finalist from this year’s awards, every single one of you is important to our community and we are so proud of you,” said GLOBE President Dan De Rochefort in his opening speech.

“No matter how many times we feel like we aren’t making progress, we actually are, and we are not just carving a way for ourselves, we are carving a way for future generations.”

The Plaza Ballroom was filled with a wonderful sense of community in an evening hosted by Geraldine Hickey & Nath Valvo.

This year’s awards had the highest number of nominations in its six-year history, and looking at the finalists, deciding on just one winner for each category could not have been an easy task for the judges.

Dr Catherine Barrett was the winner of ‘A Healthy Community’ and is the Director of Alice’s Garage, a social enterprise empowering older LGBTI people and promoting healthy ageing pathways.

She took time in her acceptance speech to acknowledge the Victorian Government, and the reforms that have occurred that continue to support our communities.

“If you go to other states and territories, you realise it is not the same everywhere else, and I want to express my appreciation to the Victorian Government because that’s really important for our health and wellbeing,” said Barret.

“I also want to acknowledge my gratitude for ageing. Ageing is a privilege, and we need to recognise that because we need to be more respectful of older people. We need to celebrate the joy of ageing. Doing that will transform our own lives.”

The ‘Connecting the Community’ award went to Minus 18, an Australian charity for LGBTI youth providing life-affirming events, education workshops and advocacy. Next year Minus18 will turn 21, and the whole team came forward to accept the award.

“We create spaces for young people to feel safe, empowered, listened to and feel damn good about themselves as well,” said Miller from Minus 18 as she accepted the award.

“We do that in a number of ways; we host kick-ass events, we support or even run campaigns that put youth voices to the front and also we do education, training and workshops and are very proud of the work we do. There’s a lot of people in the world who are still not ready to listen to young people, but we do that every day and we do that with safety and support.”

‘Excellence in Small Business’ was awarded to Hares and Hyenas, Melbourne’s LGBTIQA+ intersectional bookshop, café, performance venue and community hub.

Owners Roland and Crusader were given a standing ovation as they came forward to accept the award.

While the business has been running for 28 years and continues to provide a safe, inclusive and diverse space for our communities, Roland took to the podium to reflect on the past five months after police mistakenly raided their business, hospitalising one of their residents.

“We saw how the community came together for us, and although it was not homophobic itself, it affected a lot of people, which showed us how our business is close to people’s hearts,” he said as he spoke about our communities’ raw relationship with the police.

“The methods that have been put in place, with GLLO officers, the recent apology which has just happened and marching in Pride March are one thing, but I think there needs to be a lot more proactivity happening – especially targeted towards the trans community and people of colour. It is not enough for there to just be liaison officers, there has to be some extremely proactive measure that can start the healing for these people.”

Switchboard Victoria took the award for ‘Protecting our Community’. Switchboard CEO Joe Ball accepted the award on behalf of the community-based not for profit organisation that provides a peer based, volunteer run support service for the LGBTIQA+ community.

“Right now, we have volunteers sitting on the phone lines because the work never stops,” they said, “This is for our 180 volunteers, our fourteen staff and our board members, as well as our life members and founders whose shoulders we stand on.

“We all do this as a community, and we can’t do it without you.” Joe said,.

“For anyone who has ever shared our phone number and for anyone who needs it, for any care worker who has ever referred someone to Out and About, we do this together – this is for all of us.”

Chicks Talking Footy was awarded ‘Media Excellence’. A weekly radio program on JOY 94.9 during the footy season, it was created to address the underrepresentation of women in football media, giving a voice to LGBTIQ players, coaches and supporters. Fiona, Breeza, Motty Bec and Rachel all took to the stage to accept the award.

“We are footy obsessed women who wanted to create a space for women in football and football media and wanted to tell the stories of our community which the mainstream media may not touch on as much,” Fiona said.

“One of the great places you can find yourself in life is an intersection of doing what you love, making a small difference in the world and doing it with your best mates. We are very lucky to find ourselves there.”

‘Artist of the Year’ was awarded to Peter Waples-Crowe, a Ngarigo queer artist and Aboriginal health educator whose art practise plays at the intersection of his identities as a member of the Aboriginal and LGBTIQ communities.

“I just want to make the world better for young aboriginal LGBTIQ,” he said to roaring cheers, “and if I can do that as an older fella then it makes me really happy.”

Founder of Transcend and author Rebekah Robertson was awarded ‘Straight Ally of the Year’. Transcend is the first parent led peer support network for families of trans and gender diverse children in Australia. Robertson took time in her speech to reflect on her journey with her daughter Georgie Stone, who was awarded GLBTI Person of the year at the GLOBE Community Awards in 2016.

“In 2007, my daughter walked through the doors of the Royal Children’s Hospital and there was no gender service at the time, but we really needed their help. At the moment, as we are all aware, that the service and the people who work there, and anyone who supports trans or gender diverse medical treatment, are under attack,” she said.

“I want to thank the families of trans and gender diverse kids and of Transcend who have trusted me to advocate on their behalf.”

‘Volunteer of the Year’ was awarded to Toni Paynter who, after more than 50 years transitioned to authenticity fifteen years ago. Toni is a mental health peer support facilitator with Transgender Victoria and Uniting Victoria/Tasmania.

Toni used their time on the podium to ask the community and organisations to not stop pushing forward, acknowledging how hard it is for the trans community, particularly the Indigenous trans community.

“I put myself in the position of being the cold face out there with all the individuals that are suffering, and within the trans and gender diverse community there are hundreds of them, and a lot of them don’t survive to adulthood which is a shame,” Toni said.

“This award isn’t for me, it is for all those volunteers who are out there putting hours and hours into helping people. There are huge challenges out there in the community, so please, don’t stop doing all the promotion and advocacy work”

The late Kay Gravell from the Glamourheads was awarded the ‘John Marriott Sports Person of the Year Award’.

Kay was a mentor in and out of the pool, and her attitude to swimming, life and living with disabilities drew in female swimmers and encouraged us all to be the best version of ourselves. The award was accepted by her partner Claire.

The ‘Community Inspiration Award’ was awarded to the Headspace Bendigo HEY Diversity Program, a program specifically for LGBTIQ+ youth aged 12-25 providing much needed understanding and support for their mental health and wellbeing.

Each year, this award is given to a finalist doing inspirational work that uplifts and promotes the Victorian LGBTI community.

Finally, Dr Judy Tang was awarded ‘LGBTI Person of the Year’.

President of the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council, Tang is a passionate advocate for multicultural communities and older adults in our diverse LGBTIQ communities.

Tang was not expecting to win this award, and being just one part of a passionate and vibrant team, made sure she had them all around her as she accepted the award.

“I am just one part of the multicultural LGBTI community and it is one of the most diverse and inclusive spaces to be a part of,” Tang said as she thanked the elders that had come before her and those that are up and coming.

Congratulations to all the winners.

The 2019 GLOBE Community Awards was a wonderful evening of celebration, intersectionality, recognition and community. But the event was also a reminder that we shouldn’t just wait for an awards ceremony to take the time to acknowledge the diversity that excellence and passion brings to the Victorian LGBTIQ+ community as a whole.

We continue to go from strength to strength together.

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