Long-running Australian not-for profit organisation PFLAG is taking its support and advocacy for Australia’s rainbow families to a whole new level.
National directors Jane Hopkins and Jo Gilbert (above, left to right) are spearheading a new chapter in the advocacy organisation’s 30-year history.
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is now PFLAG+ Australia: Parents in Pride.
They’re updating the name of the now registered charity to be more inclusive, reflect its national focus, foster greater cooperation between states and territory branches, and source tax-deductible funding to create resources to better support families.
Hopkins says issues like Brisbane’s Citipointe College scandal, fears for transgender youth despairing at long waiting lists to access treatment nationally, transphobic and damaging comments by radio personalities and public figures, debate around the Religious Discrimination Bill and the greater mental health risks facing LGBTIQ+ young people, continue to take a huge toll on families nationally.
“We have come so far in improving the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community,” Hopkins told QNews.com.au.
“But unfortunately there is still work that needs to be done, especially to support families in regional, rural and remote areas.
“We know there are limited resources for these families and they can often feel isolated and alone, living in communities where there is often a preconceived assumption of increased stigma and discrimination.”
PFLAG+ offering peer support to families
Jane Hopkins is a trained nurse and mum of four. Jo Gilbert is a small business operator and mum of three and grandmother of four. Both are based in Brisbane.
Hopkins says parents are often the first and most important advocates for their children, and need vital peer support as well as help navigating social, educational and health systems.
“The statistics indicating disturbing rates of self-harm, suicide, depression and anxiety [among LGBTIQ+ youth] are very distressing,” she said.
“Parents should be reassured studies have proven that when someone is supported by a well-resourced and loving family, their personal outcomes are drastically improved.
“When families receive peer support from PFLAG+, they meet, see and talk to others in similar situations who have experienced positive outcomes.
“This offers hope that things will get better for their own loved ones.”
Launch celebration at Brisbane Powerhouse
Jane Hopkins and Jo Gilbert aim to build on the impressive legacy of former national spokesperson, Shelley Argent OAM.
Shelley Argent retired last year after 22 years of tireless campaigning.
“We recently held a meeting attended by at least 20 groups from across the country,” Hopkins said.
“My hope is to continue to spread our reach, until the PFLAG+ Australia is a household name.
“At PFLAG+ Australia, we aim to be a force of change for as long as it takes to ensure our LGBTIQ+ loved ones are safe and have the same human rights as all Australians.”
PFLAG+ Australia are holding their launch celebration at Brisbane Powerhouse on October 6. Music and drag performances as well as video messages from PFLAG+ members around Australia will be part of the event.
PFLAG+ Australia will stream their first major national project – a free webinar for parents – in November. More major educational and sporting initiatives are also in the works.
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