Because of her love – we are fierce

In Because Of Her We Can, BlogX by Nat Cromb

Author: Natalie Cromb

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Natalie Cromb is a Gamilaraay mother, writer, legal professional and social justice advocate.

Don’t worry pet, I have broad shoulders, I can carry this.”

Words from my mother. 

Have you ever looked around you and taken pause to consider the women around you?  Your mother, partner, wife, mother of your children, sister, aunties, cousins, nieces, daughters, friends and colleagues? Have you considered their story – personal and familial?

Have you noticed who is turning up to plan things for community – even for NAIDOC which is supposed to be in her honour? Have you noticed who is on the frontlines of rallies? Who is advocating daily? Who is smashing the system daily in academia and panels giving voice to our issues, our solutions and our unapologetic pursuit of rectification? Have you noticed who is lined up to visit our mob behind bars and who is advocating for their release and for systemic reform? Have you noticed who is advocating for healing for our men and in the absence of services- stepping up to do it community ways – no funding, just doing it?

Overwhelmingly by majority, it is our strong black women. Why? Love – the fierce kind.

Have you ever paused to consider how these staunch women continue? In the face of the injustice, in spite of all that has been endured already? Have you considered the personal toll of these women who are speaking out for our young ones when they too suffered abuse as a result of the system into which they were born? Have you considered the emotional toil of advocacy, writing, speaking about the gut wrenching reality of our lives?

Have you seen the stereotypes prescribed to black women? Considered them?

Turn up at a rally? Absolutely, we are loud. See how our kids are being treated and removed to be placed in detention or care where they suffer trauma upon trauma –you will surely see anger. Passionate, emotional, angry? You bet we are.

The thing is – all of the stereotypes we are brushed with are supposed to demean us and make us appear unreasonable particularly when compared to that of a white woman who is stereotyped as soft, gentle, vulnerable and deserving of protection.

This attempt over the course of the last 230+ years to diminish our personhood and reduce our power and resilience as being wild and loud is deliberate. But I think we should own it because we are these things and we are these things because we refuse to be controlled and oppressed.

Our ancestors, our grandmothers, our mothers, aunties and sisters. We. Us.

We have been subjected to trauma which runs through our veins. Our empathy compounding the trauma again and again, triggered with each story, headline and incident. We cannot afford the time to unpack our trauma a lot of the time because there is so much work to be done, although we know it lives in us. Beneath our strong necks and jutted out chins as we look defiantly to the people and power structures we fight daily to dismantle, live our wounds – our scars. You don’t see them – but look into the eyes of a sister and you know they are there.

We have seen our children removed, killed through violence or the system, through introduced disease or disenfranchised hopelessness. We cannot sit in the trauma though, as we have too many more children to fight for, to protect and to prevent entry into this circumstance. Look into the eyes of a mother, aunty, grandmother though and you will see it is there, beneath the unwavering voice that cries out for justice, it is there.

We have seen our men demonised, brutalised and give in to the hopelessness of this life. We have carried their trauma along with ours to lighten their load so that they can heal and be strong again – for their identity relies on the ability to be strong and inspire our young men to stay the course and live proper way for our community’s survival. We need them on country – keeping ceremony, telling our stories and protecting our land and mob. Look into the eyes of the woman carrying this load and you will see it is there, it is heavy and yet she still carries it as she makes another cuppa and listens and guides him through his healing.

We have been subjected to brutal violence over the last 230+ years. Sexual violence of a magnitude that cannot be equivocated in my paltry words. The rape, slavery and abhorrent reprisal at any uttering against this reality has caused irreparable pain which embeds as trauma. Despite this, we cannot adequately heal ourselves as there is a system we are working against which would try to continue this treatment of our young ones and those not yet born. This trauma lives within us and you will see it in the eyes of the sister afraid of the man who has made an unwelcome approach and reacts angrily to raise an alarm so other sisters join her and support her.

Our wounds and scars are there. You may not see them underneath the defiant posture, the angry calls against injustice, or the resilience as we continue to work daily to overcome, address, redress and prevent more trauma for our people.

The blood has been spilt, the violence visited upon us. The hurt caused and the trauma has been embedded. Still we fight. Still we defy – the system, the colonisers and the patriarchy.

When our history is considered, particularly in light of the ongoing injustices and racialised misogyny, the stereotypes of us being “angry black women” are not the insult in which they are intended– they are testament to our resilience, our survival and our strength in spite of trauma.

The stereotypes tell the story of how we get things done – we get angry, we speak out – loudly and we continue until there is change. The bitter use of stereotypes is because the powerful patriarchy has not broken us despite their best efforts and dislikes the fact that we do not need them. We will fight regardless of their agreement with or support of us.

The wounds and scars we carry – that still bleed – are there. Beneath our possum skin and broad shoulders, our laughter and boisterous voices, they are there and they remind us daily why we do what we do, why our sisterhood is so essential to our survival and why we will ensure that there are less and less of us carrying these wounds and this trauma as each generation passes because our love for our people and children is stronger than everything.

Because of her we are. Because of her we can. Because of her we do.

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Author: Dameyon Bonson

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Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Share this Post

Author: Dameyon Bonson

Share this Post

Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

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Author: Dameyon Bonson

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Dameyon Bonson, a Mangarayi and Torres Strait Islander man, based in the Kimberley. He has a keen interest in social enterprise and value based market economics. His expertise includes Indigenous suicide prevention and strategising Male health engagement. He is the founder of Black Rainbow Living Well™ and YFRONTS™.

Earlier this week saw the release of the first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders owned and led Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report. This report is via the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). A small group of people identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex (LGBTQI) participated in the third national roundtable also co-hosted by the National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation in Canberra on 16th March 2015.

You can download the report here.

Whilst there is much to celebrate with this achievement. There is still sadness in my heart that the lives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community, who are undeniably the highest risk of suicide, self-harm, alcohol and other drug self medication, has apparently not attracted the attention of the wider mental health and suicide prevention sector.
What we know from the diligence of our Native American brothers and sisters is that over half of Native trans* people have attempted suicide. They have found prevalence of suicide attempts of trans* people is highest among American Indian or Alaska Native (56%). That Native American LGBQTI people experience even more prejudice and discrimination and have higher rates of suicide deaths, attempts, and ideation than heterosexual Native American and LGBQTI people of any other racial/ethnic backgrounds in the US.
 
It is staggering the very visual and obvious scarring that comes with cutting; a non-suicidal self injury mainly undertaken as another self medication and relief.
 
It is staggering the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people whom turn to alcohol and other drugs to self medicate against homophobia and heterosexism.

I will intend to raise these issues at the UNPFII in New York, where I hope to lobby successfully for an international consortium to look at the SDOH affecting Indigenous LGBQTI people at an international level. The outcome of this meeting will be presented at the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in New Zealand later this year.

Nationally and globally there has been limited investment in the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBQTI people, outside of HIV. Which is how we are constantly framed and carries with it significant stigma – even in 2016.
 
There are currently 7 publications on the health and wellbeing of LGBQTI Australians, one or two have a discussion point of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people. But that’s where it starts and ends.

The Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report references a report I undertook, self funded. This will be released in the coming months via in kind contributions from the construction sector.
 
I am extremely grateful, as are many from our community, for the opportunity the ATSTSPEP project has presented us as group.

Ongoing discussions will create greater understanding of the experiences of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community.
 
For example, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people need to be viewed through the interconnected lens of our sexual, gender and Indigenous identities. Through an intersectional lens that posits the social determinants of our health; taking into consideration the devastating effects of whiteness, racism, heterosexism and homophobia.
However, there is a significant underestimation of the urgent and unmet need the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI is faced with.

Those of us alive today, we are the lucky ones. We made it through. A lot of our mob are dead and there is way too many more out there struggling.
 
A 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression, up until 6 weeks ago was homeless. He was sleeping in his car at the beach and in car parks of the mountains in and around Melbourne. With the help of the networks of Black Rainbow, we were able to help him raise, via crowdfunding, the $3000 needed to secure him a bond. Through our networks we were able to get him on the radar of the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS), who now provide him with the medical and social support he needs. Through these same networks we were also able to get him some case management, and this came via NSW. He lives in Victoria.
 
Where does a 40-year-old Aboriginal Trans* Man with a physical disability and suffering from depression go for help? There is no one door. Behind one there can be racism, behind another trans*phobia, behind another stigma associated with mental health. It goes on, and on.
 
A staggering 84% of respondents to the survey that informs my report, when asked if they had been affected by suicide, said ‘Yes’.
 
An encouraging 88% respondents answered ‘Yes’ when asked if wanting to see an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Sistergirls and Brotherboy Suicide Prevention, wellbeing and healing strategy.
 
Both Canada and New Zealand have strategies for their Indigenous LGBQTI people. We could have one too. It is not that the work isn’t being done or that there isn’t people to do it. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI roundtable in Canberra is testament to this. So too is the work of Maddee Clark, Steven Lindsay Ross, Andrew Farrell, Casey Conway and Tanya Quakawoot.

It is not that partnerships with research institutions haven’t been initiated, they have. I personally nurtured a relationship for 18 months and at the last minute was told, ‘No’, because the research institutions were not sure if it would be funded in the second half of 2016.
 
Senator Nova Peris, penned a letter of supporting our community and Black Rainbow to a large mainstream NGO, whom came back with ‘we have no money’.
 
A national LGBQTI group also knocked back a partnership when approached to co-submit for the Indigenous Advancement Strategy – their response was also a ‘no’.

Special mention to Indigenous Allied Health Australia and to the Healing Foundation for their ongoing support in this area, and no doubt there are many others that can also be mentioned. Solidarity is a great thing; it empowers us to continue to be active in our advocacy. Because, the urgency of the suicidality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people can not be underestimated.
 
From the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable (18 March 2015),
– “The urgent need for research led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse populations was stated in the responses of the participants in the Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations Roundtable” (pg 12).
– “We need to have direct representation at the decision-making tables, we need to be co-leading or leading and not just from the distance doing some advising” (Sexuality and Gender Diverse Roundtable Participant).
This was being reinforced and identified for a number of purposes:
 
1.         To ensure that the voices of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sexuality and gender diverse community are valued and present;

2.         To ensure ownership of the issues, the analysis and conclusions with respect to sexuality and gender diverse people;

3.         To ensure that new insights involving sexuality and gender diverse populations are recognised;

4.         To connect the voices of the sexuality and gender diverse community directly to evolving policy wherever possible and appropriate; and

5.         To guide further development of ideas found in current reports and literature to supplement the sexuality and gender diverse populations’ concerns that emerged in the Roundtable.
 
From within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Conference organising committee folks are advocating, with the support of others, for the need to equitable distribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI voices. What is so great about this conference as well, is the inclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI community across all stream and themes rather that delegated to a ‘high risk’ category of it s own. The rational behind this is because we too, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTI people, form part of the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

I write this with respect in my heart and love in my soul. But lip service can no longer be paid to the idea that ‘suicide is everybody’s business’ when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people are too often still being excluded.

Sexuality and Gender Diverse Populations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer and Intersex – LGBTQI) Roundtable Report.

If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or speak to your local Aboriginal Medical Service.

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