AS Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) prepares to conduct its annual Gay Community Periodic Survey in various locations around the state, news has emerged that the survey will once again be welcomed and conducted at the Wickham Hotel in light of the controversial fallout last year.

[showads ad=MREC]From September 11 to October 11 venues and events in Brisbane along with the Gold Coast, Cairns and Townsville will see the periodic survey ask men who have sex with men about a variety of issues in relation to sexual behaviour, safe sex and risk reduction strategies, and drug and alcohol use.

Funded by Queensland Health, the survey is collaboration between the Kirby Institute and University of NSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health, along with survey facilitators QuAC.

“The annual survey is a vital tool we use to track the changing nature of our community.” QuAC executive director Michael Scott said.

“With data gathered on where men meet other men for sex, how this sex is negotiated and risk reduction strategies used, we can then redirect education to appropriately target our community.”

Scott added that the importance of a peer-conducted survey is vital in order to gain a realistic and accurate snapshot of the gay community.

“Being a peer is more than just being a person who is LGBTI,” QuAC outreach volunteer Gary Williams said.

“A peer has a deep understanding of the diversity within our community, and the skills to reach our community in a language we understand.” 

Last year, a newly-renovated Wickham Hotel — an iconic LGBTI-friendly venue in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley — faced backlash over its decision to ban the Gay Community Periodic Survey (GCPS) from being conducted at its venue over concerns that “[they don’t] fit with the new Wickham” and the new clientele it was trying to attract.

At the time, the Centre for Social Research for Health’s lead investigator Martin Holt said the Wickham’s rejection of the surveys was a “missed opportunity”.

“It’s very disappointing that the Wickham, who has always been a venue that’s welcomed the survey, has now decided to not host it,” Holt told the Star Observer.

The Star Observer can reveal that under direction from a new manager, the Wickham Hotel will now allow volunteers into the venue to conduct this year’s GCPS, a move that Scott described as an important decision.

“When we proposed the roll out of the periodic survey this year to management there was no hesitation,” Scott told the Star Observer.

“The Wickham understands the importance of the GCPS to our community, and it happy to support this initiative.

“In addition to the Wickham allowing the GCPS this year, it should be added that the Wickham is supportive of QuAC implementing other campaigns and initiatives targeting LGBTI people, and we look forward to continuing to build this strong working relationship.”

For further information on the implementation of this year’s GCPS, contact Michael Scott on 0427 138 373 or mscott@quac.org.au

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