With Mardi Gras over and the Easter chocolate firmly entrenched around my mid section, the year is fully under way and it”s time to forge ahead with some of the bigger issues the community faces throughout the region.

A key issue within our community – particularly in regional areas – is that of homophobic violence. While often not as publicised as Oxford St, violence in regional centres remains a day to day problem, often accompanied by a feeling that nowhere is safe and that there is nothing that can be done to stop it.

With this in mind, the ACON Illawarra Branch is looking to get the Safe Place Project in Wollongong and the surrounding area in an effort to address homophobia that can occur when venturing into the wider community.

This project will seek to create a network of designated Safe Places within the local business community which can be recognised and utilised by the GLBT community in the event of homophobic attacks or threats of violence. Any businesses interested in taking part in this initiative can contact the ACON Illawarra Office.

The Safe Place Project is particularly important with several recent reports of germanonlinecasinos.com increased violence in Wollongong and, in particular, the Fairy Meadow area. We encourage locals and visitors to be especially careful when out and about and to contact the police and ACON Illawarra to make a report if they experience or witness homophobia.

For assistance in making reports, feel free to contact the ACON Illawarra Branch. Online reporting facilities and more information on personal safety can be found on the Anti-Violence website: www.avp.acon.org.au

On a lighter note our local lesbian group REAL has really taken off this year, with lots of upcoming events like the Book/Writers Group, regular meetings, breakfasts and social outings. For more information contact Tania on: 0402 433 891 and visit their blog: http://realillawarra.blogspot.com

Also, Pink Nation, our local GLBT community radio program, is looking for some interested and enthusiastic volunteers who would like to try their hand at radio presenting. The time slot runs on Thursdays between 5pm and 6pm and enquiries can be directed to: steen@voxfm.org.au.

If you require any additional information about groups, services, organisations in the Illawarra you can contact ACON Illawarra on 4226 1163.

Trevor Slattery is the Education and Community Development Officer for ACON”s Illawarra Branch.

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