Melbourne queer youth group Minus18 has won a Premier’s award in National Volunteer Week for making a “significant contribution” to the community.

Minus18 co-convenor Micah Scott told Southern Star the group was “hugely excited” to win the Young People’s Community Participation Award and take home a cool $5000 prize.

“We really didn’t expect it at all. We were up against some really strong organisations,” he said.

“It’s incredible that the Victorian Government has recognised the importance of providing safe spaces and events for the celebration of queer youth culture.”

Premier John Brumby said volunteers were a vital part of the community and work tirelessly to improve the lives of others.

“Both the winners and finalists should be very proud of their contribution to their local communities,” he said in a statement.

Minus18 has around 30 volunteers with an organising committee of 18 members.

The group has been running for over a decade and holds social events to provide a ‘safe space’ for teenagers who identify other than straight.

The group recently held its annual same-sex formal which was hailed a great success.

Scott said the group will decide in the coming weeks where the award money will go.

“We’ll wait until we all meet up and discuss that, but we want to get into schools a bit more to increase the awareness of queer youth issues out there,” he said.

The group was up against SYN FM, the Ethnic Youth Council and YMCA Victoria for the award.

Scott said Minus18 had been a springboard for many young people to continue making a positive contribution to the community.

Melbourne High School’s gay, straight alliance group, SOFA, was established by members of Minus18 and the group this week started an anti-homophobia campaign — Another Perspective — to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia.

The campaign hopes to address some of the issues young people face and challenge use of the phrase ‘that’s so gay’.

“We hope this campaign will provoke thought and help those from the straight community think about things from another perspective,” Scott said.

“It can be difficult to grasp the significance of coming out when you aren’t really connected with the queer community.”

The campaign has been developed in conjunction with Victoria Police. Posters will be given to Melbourne schools and displayed in public locations.

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