Pip Ditzell knows the community has high expectations of her in her new role as the City of Sydney’s gay, lesbian and transgender project coordinator.
I hope I can live up to them, she said.
But I’m really excited about it and look forward to working with the community, because that’s what I really enjoy.
Ditzell was employed to act as a consultant to council on gay, lesbian and transgender issues, and also liaise between members of the community and the inner workings of council.
Another big part of it is community development, she said. I’ve been meeting with community organisations and trying to understand what they perceive needs to be done and how council can work better with them.
Some of the areas Ditzell has identified as needing work are street safety and homophobic violence and abuse, especially around Oxford Street. Another area is transgender people and homelessness.
They’re a couple of projects I’ve already identified but I’m hoping the community will identify other needs and come to us, she said.
I would encourage members of the community to contact me with their concerns and we can see if I can help. I’m happy to try.
Ditzell has spent the last 10 years working in community organisations as a social worker, specialising in the area of HIV.
Her introduction to the issue came when, as a student, she did a placement at HIV/AIDS support group CSN (Community Support Network).
I really loved it, she said, and the experience inspired her to take a job at Darlinghurst Community Centre when she graduated from university.
I did general social work at the centre, but because of my experience with HIV I sort of became known as the HIV social worker.
In that first job she did a lot of community development work, including helping setting up the Same-Sex Domestic Violence Working Group in Darlinghurst, which worked to raise awareness in the community about the issue.
That work was really exciting, Ditzell said.
Her next job was at ADAHPT (AIDS Dementia And HIV Psychiatry Team), where she spent four years as a senior social worker.
Ditzell said that until recently she was a proud member of gay and lesbian softball team the Outfielders for three years.