While groups have been established for parents of lesbian and gay children in Melbourne, there is often little support in rural areas.

Two parents in Shepparton in northern Victoria, with the support of local support group Uniting Care -“ Cutting Edge, are looking to redress the balance by establishing their own PFLAG group.

Uniting Care Shepparton diversity officer Damien Stevens said the group would fill a much needed gap in the region.

-œ[Homophobia] is definitely still an ongoing issue in regional Victoria, he told Southern Star.

The group will meet once a month to provide support for family and friends experiencing difficult times when their loved one comes out.

It will also aim to reduce homophobia and stigma faced in isolated communities through public education.

Stevens said PFLAG Shepparton would seek to link the wider community in with the already established local GLBTI community.

-œI think this group might bridge another gap of services needed that people haven’t had access to, he said.

The group will head to Melbourne this week for the PFLAG Melbourne meeting to become familiar with the style and set-up.

Stevens said there had been a PFLAG group in the area previously, however it had stopped meeting several years ago.

-œThere has been enthusiasm again and I think it’s important to meet the need when it’s there, he said.

-œI suppose as people come in and out of the town, the need for these groups comes and goes and you can only hope that people who are permanent can be flexible enough to have these groups come and go as the population needs them.

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