One of Australia’s leading family law experts says that while the acceptance and recognition of the major issues facing gay, lesbian and transgender people in regional Australia has improved over the past decade much more needs to be done.
Ms Heather McKinnon, Practice Group Leader, Family Law, Slater and Gordon Coffs Harbour will be speaking at the inaugural CoastOut community education conference at Southern Cross University on Friday 28th October.
The conference will draw together health, psychology and law academics to engage with the community on the latest research on “Gender and Sexuality in Rural and Regional Australia”.
Ms McKinnon said the conference is one of the first of its kind in regional Australia.
“This is an important step forward in recognising and dealing with the issue facing gay, lesbian and transgender people who choose to live in rural and regional centres,” Ms McKinnon said.
“Gay, lesbians and transgender people in regional Australia face challenges and difficulties that are, for the most part, not issues in the major metropolitan centres.
“Young gay males are over represented in suicide statistics in regional areas. It is critical that community leaders speak out to prevent this tragedy.
“This conference will look closely at issues such as isolation, best health practice and law reform which continue to be major concerns for gay people living in regional centres.
“What we are hoping to achieve is a shift in the way people living in regional centres look at these issues and to create a greater understanding of gender and sexuality,” Ms McKinnon said.
Slater and Gordon is one of the major sponsors of the conference and a supporter of the Coffs Coast's Gay, Lesbian and their friends Festival, CoastOut.