Locals up for inclusion awards
BENDIGO representation is strong in the nominations for the GLOBE Community Awards, recognising the individuals and organisations working to benefit LGBTIQ+ people.
Nominees include Piano Bar for Excellence in LGBTIQ Small Business and Enterprise, Maree Dixon for Ally of the Year, and Zara Jones for LGBTIQ Rural and Regional Champion.
Also nominated in a new category, Transgender Inclusion, is the group Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond.
Ms Jones, who is the president of TGD Bendigo and Beyond, said the nominations show how far Bendigo has grown in supporting the community.
“Bendigo representation is fantastic to show that it’s not all just happening in metro areas, that regional areas are doing some amazing work and it’s so vital for our communities in these regional areas that also suffer from isolation and lack of resources,” she said.
“It shows our community that we are here, we are visible and you have community and you don’t have to move to Melbourne.”
Member of Trans and Gender Diverse Bendigo and Beyond Eli Gray said the group has helped increase visibility and acceptance of the LGBTIQ community in the region.
The group meets monthly, either online or in person, and holds gender affirming clothing swaps for members.
“Everybody’s even more isolated than normal and so having that space online that we can gather has been huge for people’s mental health and wellbeing,” Mr Gray said.
“Being connected with my peers it feels like such a safe and inclusive space and when we come together, I feel like our guards come down and we can be ourselves.”
Nominated for ally of the year, Maree Dixon has been recognised for her work volunteering with the Bendigo Pride Festival, the Bendigo Queer Film Festival and as the HEY diversity worker at headspace Bendigo, for LGBTIQA+ people aged 12-25 years old.
Ms Jones said the work Ms Dixon has done has been appreciated by all people in the LGBTIQ community.
“Allies are so very important because where we are suffering from anxieties and the pressures of everything happening to LGBTI people, the allies are there speaking with us, for us and they’ve got our back,” she said.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner in February next year, and Ms Jones said the awards are a “boost of encouragement” to continue the work they’ve been doing.
“The awards recognising what has been done is a great platform to encourage us to do more,” she said.
“It’s inspirational and it keeps us driving towards furthering change and awareness and all the positive things we’ve been working towards.”