Gay News Network - Gay News Network Wed, 10 Feb 2016 11:32:58 +1100 GNN en-gb Victoria’s Aysha Buffet crowned the winner of Dragnation 2016

Aysha Buffet from Melbourne, Victoria, is Australia’s newest drag star, winning the inaugural nationwide drag competition, Dragnation.

Hundreds packed into the GH Hotel in Melbourne last Saturday for the grand final which saw Victorian representative Aysha beat seven other state finalists.

Dragnation producer Jacob Merchant said the event was a great success.

“The event had a great turn out and we had attendees from all over Australia,” Merchant told GNN. 

“We had some Tasmanians and even some from the NT that came to town to support their queen!

“I think the best responses from the crowd were during the performances – lots of screaming and encouragement. They also enjoyed the judges’ banter with the performers because it was clear is wasn’t scripted so you didn't know what was going to happen.”

Dragnation launched late last year with a series of heats in capital cities across the country. Among the state finalists were Layla Mann (Flamingos, TAS), Paulini (Cube, ACT), Fran Giapanni (Stonewall, NSW), Monica Fusions (The Sportsman, QLD), Vogue Magazine (Throb, NT), Electra Thigh (Rigby’s, WA) and Venus Amore (Mars Bar, SA). Aysha won her state final at the same venue as the grand final, the GH. 



Above: The Dragnation Grand Final at the GH Hotel. Top image: The winner of Dragnation 2016, Aysha Buffet. Photos: Andrew Polzella 


Merchant praised the finalists for their performances and creativity. 

“Each performer brought something different and that's what it's all about: Aysha Buffet’s parody skit song of an oriental nail artist chatting with a customer brought tears to some eyes; Paulini from ACT showed everybody how she could move and boy could she; Vogue Magazines outfit changes, versatility and sheer talent definitely highlighted her ability to touch the crowd and gave us all something to aspire towards.”

But he said Aysha’s dedicated and to the craft really came through for her. 



Above: Aysha Buffet from Melbourne, Victoria won Dragnation 2016. Photo: Andrew Polzella 


“Aysha really brought it. Even at tech rehearsals she was professional and fresh – I think her love of fried chicken has helped Melbourne fast food for years to come. 

“When the crown went MIA, she ran with it and broke the temporary one and handed pieces to her competitors on stage. 

“Her comedy gives her an edge and for someone only young in drag, she shined like a diamond.”
Aysha will now embark on a nationwide club tour.

“We start our Australian tour next month kicking off in WA then the rest of the country until June,” Merchant said. 

“Heats for next year’s final begins in each state venue around September 2016.”

Dragnation is proudly presented by GNN.


GALLERY: Check out photos from the Dragnation Grand Final. View the full gallery here



Reg Domingo
Wed, 10 Feb 2016 10:53:02 +1100
WATCH: Tanya Plibersek delivers impassioned speech in favour of marriage equality Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:49:59 +1100 Study claims women in the boardroom make for more inclusive workplaces Tue, 09 Feb 2016 14:25:17 +1100 Darryl O’Donnell appointed new AFAO executive director, to replace Rob Lake

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) has appointed Darryl O’Donnell as its new executive director to replace Rob Lake, who is stepping down after five years in the role.

O’Donnell will step in from early March until the end of December, when national and internationl recruitment will take place. 

O’Donnell said he was “delighted” to be stepping into the helm of Australia’s peak body representing the nation’s HIV/AIDS organisations. 

“We’re at a tremendously exciting moment in Australia’s response to HIV,” O’Donnell said. “The continuing efforts of our communities, and the massive interest in PrEP, put us in sight of our goal of virtually eliminating HIV transmission by 2020.

“To achieve this goal our communities need much better access to PrEP and new HIV tests, and our organisations need the resources for trusted, credible peer-based programs. We need both these things to achieve our goals: technology and people trusted by our communities to provide education and support.”

A long-time health advocate, O’Donnell has experience in HIV spanning 25 years across community, research and government settings. 

During the 1990s he worked with AIDS Councils in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria. He has served on the boards of the Victorian AIDS Council and ACON and is a former National President of AFAO. 

From 1999 to 2013, he worked for the NSW Government where he held a number of roles, including as the director responsible for statewide HIV, STI and viral hepatitis policy and programs. In that capacity he also led on many national initiatives. 

In 2013, Darryl was appointed Executive Director of the NSW Mental Health Commission. He returned to the HIV sector in 2015 when he joined ACON as Principal, Policy and Development.

“In this federal election year, we’ll be surveying the Government, Opposition and minor parties and asking what commitments they will make to our communities as we work to end HIV. We’ll publish those results widely and ask our communities to consider them as they decide their votes,” O’Donnell said. 

“There’s an enormous amount to be done to do justice to our communities’ efforts to end HIV. 

“AFAO has been representing our communities and their organisations for 30-years. I’m delighted to stepping into this role and to be contributing to AFAO’s proud history,” O’Donnell said.

Outgoing Executive Director Rob Lake said he has been proud to serve the community in the role for five years.

“It has always been a challenging and exciting role, leading AFAO’s domestic and international programmes, and I’m so pleased that AFAO continues to attract leaders of the calibre of Darryl,” Lake said.

“This transition to new leadership and the next steps for AFAO in the Australian HIV response and in South East Asia hold much promise in meeting our national and global goals to end HIV.” 

AFAO President Dr Bridget Haire praised Lake’s contribution as AFAO’s executive director since 2011.

“Rob has made a significant contribution to the fight against HIV in his time at AFAO,” Haire said. 

“We thank Rob for his commitment, leadership, and unwavering support over the last five years.”


Reg Domingo
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 13:56:33 +1100
Gay conversion therapy to be banned in Victoria

A new bill set to crack down on dodgy health practitioners such as gay conversion therapists will be introduced to the Victorian Parliament today.

The introduction of a proposed new complaints system has been described as “tough” by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy (pictured) who says existing loopholes will be filled with “some pretty tough new powers”. 

"We've had a number of challenges in terms of the sorts of services people have been provided and no legislative tools to really respond to it.

“We’re taking action to crack down on dangerous health practitioners who take advantage of vulnerable Victorians,” she said.

"An example of some of the challenges we've seen in recent times - we've seen gay conversion therapists out there strutting their wares, we've seen unethical representations about treatments claimed to cure cancer that we know don't work.”

A significant change will be that the commissioner will not have to wait until a patient makes a complaint to take action.

"For example, we became aware a certain provider was offering ketamine treatments, which is commonly known as a party drug, for treatment of depressive illnesses," she said.

"Because no one who was purchasing ketamine came and complained to the Health Services Commissioner, there was no grounds to investigate it."

If the changes are made, the Health Services Commissioner job held by Dr Grant Davies will be changed to the new Health Complaints Commissioner, with Davies transitioning to the new role.

Pictured: Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy


Glen Morét
Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:28:59 +1100
Gold Coast police officer forced to apologise for homophobic remarks Tue, 09 Feb 2016 11:57:46 +1100 Philadelphia woman gets jail time for gay bashing Tue, 09 Feb 2016 10:09:05 +1100 Parent protests Frankston High School’s trans inclusive policy Mon, 08 Feb 2016 14:34:49 +1100 New Medibank ad features same-sex couples Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:13:37 +1100 Trans activist Nadine Stransen found dead Mon, 08 Feb 2016 11:53:30 +1100