Executive director of Change.org and prominent marriage equality advocate, Sally Rugg, is among the keynote speakers who have been announced for this year’s LGBTIQ Women’s Health Conference.

Hosted by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) in partnership with community health organisation ACON, the conference is the only national summit for LGBTIQ women’s health in Australia.

Other keynote speakers will include VicHealth CEO and World Health Organization Advisor Jerril Rechter, social feminist Alison Thorne, Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas executive director Naomi Fontanos, and GetUp senior human rights campaigner Roj Amedi.

The conference will be opened by the Minister for Health, Jill Hennessey, and additional keynote speakers are still to be announced.

“We are thrilled by this year’s line-up,” said VAC CEO Simon Ruth.

“We’re confident this diverse and inspiring group of women will inspire a robust discussion about how we can better address LGBTIQ women’s health and empower those women in attendance.

“We’re tackling an ambitious portfolio of issues in just two days, including sexual health, ageing, mental health, activism and feminism, breast and cervical cancers, trans health, living with disabilities, leadership, alcohol and other drugs, rainbow families, domestic and family violence, sex work, marriage equality and the refugee and migrant experience.”

This year’s theme of ‘Research, Resilience, Respect’ is aimed at exploring existing research into LGBTIQ women’s health.

The conference will highlight the need for further research, acknowledge the resilience and strength of LGBTIQ women, and pay respect to all LGBTIQ women’s communities.

LBQ women’s project lead, Rachel Cook, said it’s clear there is a need for the conference.

“When this conference began organisers were expecting around 30 people to attend and over 300 people came along, and each year that number grows,” she told the Star Observer.

“This shows how important this conference is to the LGBTIQ women’s community.

“The fact that research is showing concerning health outcomes for LGBTIQ women across a range of health issues means work in this area is vital.

“The conference is a great way of coming together to discuss the work that is already taking place and the work that needs to be done in this area.”

Initiated by VAC in 2015, the conference was born out of the realisation that LGBTIQ women’s health is largely overlooked by both LGBTIQ and mainstream organisations.

In 2016, VAC partnered with ACON to co-present the conference, which expanded to a two-day event in 2017 with over 300 attendees from all over Australia.

The LGBTIQ Women’s Health Conference will be on July 12 – 13 2018 at the Jasper Hotel in Melbourne. See the website for more information and to register.

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