A NEW campaign from the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and VicHealth aims to address risky drinking behaviour among lesbian, bisexual and queer women in regional Victoria.

The program, part of VicHealth’s Alcohol Culture Change Initiative, is a two-year project to increase social support for low-risk drinking and reduce the impact of alcohol.

It will receive over $200,000 to develop and implement a health promotion campaign aimed at creating a culture of support and encouragement to reduce risky drinking in Bendigo, Ballarat, Morwell, and Geelong.

“We know that one-size doesn’t fit all—Victoria is a diverse state with many drinking cultures,” said VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter.

“These new projects will target groups of people most likely to drink at risky levels.

“This initiative is about people socially supporting one another to reduce high risk drinking, resulting in reduced harm for themselves, their family and friends, those in the vicinity and the broader community.”

VAC CEO Simon Ruth said, “We know that drinking behaviours amongst same-sex attracted women pose considerable risks to their ongoing health and wellbeing.

“This funding will allow us to expand upon our existing services to reach those women in regional centres, and challenge some assumed social norms and attitudes around drinking by encouraging positive behaviour change and peer support.”

The project aims to establish focus groups from its four key regional centres to consult in the development of a social marketing campaign. It will work closely with queer women’s community networks and health service providers in regional settings, and raise awareness of risky behaviours and support pathways.

“As a community-led organisation, lesbian, bisexual, and queer women have played an important role in VAC’s work since its very founding,” said Ruth.

“That tradition will carry on as this project aims to understand and influence the values, attitudes and beliefs of [lesbian, bisexual and queer] women and their support networks of friends, family, and co-workers.”

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