What do lesbians want? That’s the question two organisers of a new lesbian health promotion project in Melbourne’s north are asking.

Women’s Health In The North (WHIN), a government-funded women’s health initiative, is behind the new project and is calling lesbian and bisexual women in Melbourne’s northern suburbs to take part. A consultation will take place early next month following a successful meeting in June.

Fourth year RMIT social work student Anastasia Loupis is behind the project, alongside Swinburne Community Development student Catherine Reidy.

The two women and WHIN are hope to establish a permanent regional information and referral service for lesbians in Melbourne’s north.

-œWHIN works with women on the coalface in terms of consultation, but then most of our work is working with organisations to educate women and put the issues on the agenda – we’re working on a partnership with gay and lesbian health agencies, Loupis said.

She added that the aim was to empower lesbians by putting their health care and well-being back into their own hands.

-œ[Lesbians] are still left out of the picture, there are a lot of issues – even coming out, with self esteem issues. There’s still a lot of homophobia in society, she said.

-œWomen [in general] are disadvantaged, we know that, there’s less pay for women and there’s a double jeopardy of being a lesbian as well.

Loupis said the project had a broad reach, and would deal with not only general health, but also establish a newsletter and provide information for older lesbians and lesbian families as well as general support.

She said the project was about all over wellbeing.

A steering committee will lead the project and identify issues in the lesbian community and will approach other groups already working in the area.

Melbourne’s north includes the Yarra, Darebin, Moreland, Banyule, Hume, Nillumbik and Whittlesea council areas.

Those interested in attending the meeting or joining the steering committee should contact WHIN.

info: Consultation held August 4 at 9.30am-12pm @ SPAN Community House, Thornbury. Contact Anastasia on 9484 1666

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