Community Spotlight: Robyn Dever


Robyn Devers
Rainbow Coffs Harbour's Robyn Devers. Photo: Supplied.

Robyn Dever moved to Coffs Harbour in 2011 and quickly identified a gap in support for the local LGBTQIA+ community.

WORDS Kyle Goldfinch

Robyn Dever founded Rainbow Coffs Harbour in 2015 with her partner and another local gay couple.

In the decade since then Robyn has become a pivotal figure in offering a safe and empowering space for LGBTQIA+ people in the region, fostering a community that now boasts over eight hundred members on Facebook.

With a background in sexual health, Robyn worked at an HIV clinic in Sydney in the 80s and recalls some of the horrors of that period, which she says had a profound effect on her.

“I saw a lot of patients coming into the clinic wearing dark hats and hoodies and I saw the sunken faces. I witnessed the embarrassment and the shame,” Dever recalls.

Coming from that background, in 2011, Robyn and her partner moved to Coffs Harbour, and discovered there was no LGBTQIA+ support group for the area.

Robyn put a Facebook post up and connected with a gay couple who had moved up from Melbourne, and the group grew from there.

Recognising the pressing need for a group like this, particularly due to the mental and physical well-being of the transgender and gender diverse communities in the area, Robyn knew she had to reach an audience beyond social media, especially given the age diversity of LGBTQIA+ people in the region.

That resulted in Dever doing a lot of the PR and marketing to expand the group, getting the word out to different types of media, while working with a fantastic group of volunteers.

She explains that one of her proudest achievements of running Rainbow Coffs Harbour was when a trans girl came up to her and said, “This is the first time in public that I feel comfortable wearing a dress.”

She also recounts how people have become more open about talking about their HIV status through Rainbow Coffs Harbour.

“People will come up to me and disclose their HIV status or ask me about sexually transmitted diseases,” Dever says.

Dever achieved this all while still balancing her role as a practising nurse.

When COVID restrictions started to dissipate, the community rallied around her again in wanting to help support her in bringing future events to life through Rainbow Coffs Harbour.

Since then the group has hosted a picnic with close to 150 people attending, with Dever saying, “We are very pleased with that”.

The group also had forty people turn up to an event at The Big Banana when it was turned red for World AIDS Day, where Robyn had a red flag bearing the World AIDS Day ribbon symbol.

She feels like with all these successes, “We are on the tip of something big!”

Looking ahead, Robyn would love to find more sponsorships and partnerships with local businesses to expand the reach and impact of Rainbow Coffs Harbour to continue her mission of building a safer and more inclusive future where all LGBTQIA+ people can find acceptance in the region.

She also hopes to see more trans young people attending the group’s events and for people to feel empowered to solidify the future of Rainbow Coffs Harbour.

“If anyone has any ideas for Rainbow Coffs Harbour, I am more than happy to listen to them,” Dever says.

-You can find out more information about the group by heading to Rainbow Coffs Harbour on Facebook or you can reach out to Robyn directly at rainbowcoffsharbour@yahoo.com

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