Year in headlines: Adelaide
With the defeat of a marriage equality bill and the closure of the AIDS Council, 2013 has been an uncertain one for SA’s LGBTI community. Ron Hughes takes a look at the year in headlines.
New branch for AME
A new branch of Australian Marriage Equality (AME) was set up in South Australia in March. The group, with local lawyer Harley Schumann as state convenor, merged with the Facebook page South Australia Marriage Equality (SAME) which was formed to support Greens MLC Tammy Franks’ state-based marriage equality bill. Sadly, Franks’ bill was one of several socially progressive bills to lapse as parliament rose for the last time before the 2014 state election.
SA rejects marriage equality
A bill to legalise same-sex marriage at the state level was defeated in the House of Assembly. Labor MP Susan Close introduced the bill, saying, “The rules of traditional marriage are now too narrow and we must address this injustice, where sexuality remains a barrier to two consenting adults having their relationship legally recognised.” Labor Premier Jay Weatherill allowed his MPs a conscience vote but opposition leader Steven Marshall denied a Coalition conscience vote, arguing that marriage was purely a federal issue.
ACSA closes doors
When the AIDS Council of SA ran into financial difficulties, an interim board placed the organisation under voluntary administration, but despite showing an impressive turnaround in finances, and halving ACSA’s deficit in just four months, the board and administrators were unable to agree on funding with SA Health and the administrators decided to close the doors. Despite government funded programs such as Gay Men’s Health and needle exchange continuing in the hands of other organisations, Adelaide’s LGBTI population lost a vital community hub.
Care for LGBTI homeless youth
A new report into LGBTI youth homelessness was released urging improvements in the system. Headed up by Adelaide University Associate Professor Susan Oakley, researchers studied all current literature on the subject and interviewed service providers and young LGBTI people in both Adelaide and Sydney. Oakley said LGBTI youth who were homeless were at far greater risk of harassment and abuse on top of their other problems and urged governments and agencies to adopt culturally sensitive practices for LGBTI clients.
New home for Gay Men’s Health
It was finally announced officially that Relationships Australia (SA) had taken over the Gay Men’s Health and HIV peer education programs of the now-defunct AIDS Council of South Australia. Mergho Ray, director of Health and Community Services at RASA told blaze the organisation had been involved in HIV education and support and LGBTI health support for around 20 years. Other services had also relocated, such as SAVIVE for injecting drug users being taken up by Drug and Alcohol Service SA.
New life for GLCS
Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS) announced it had found a new home with Diamond Clubhouse SA, a non-clinical support service for those with lived experience of mental illness. GLCS had been left temporarily homeless with the closure of the AIDS Council, which had hosted GLCS’ telephone counselling service free of charge. The temporary shutdown also delayed the rollout of national phone counselling project Q Life. GLCS operates its telephone counselling service from 7pm-10pm every night: (08) 8193 0800.
[Images] Some of ACSAs education and support programs have moved to Relationships Australia SA (top) and Labor MP Susan Close (above). Photos: Supplied