Wimmera LGBTI youth social group to form

Wimmera Pride Project founders Maddi Ostapiw and Loucas Vettos.
Wimmera Pride Project founders Maddi Ostapiw and Loucas Vettos.

THE Wimmera’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people will have more support with a new social group starting in Horsham.

The Wimmera Pride Project, Grampians Community Health and headspace have worked together to create a youth social group for the region’s LGBTI community.

The group is open to young people aged between 12 and 25 and the first meeting will be on Thursday.

Headspace LGBTI youth support worker and Wimmera Pride Project co-founder Maddi Ostapiw said the region was lacking support services for young people.

“Grampians Community Health run a rainbow youth group in Stawell and Ararat and through conversations with them, the pride project and headspace, we decided we needed to get moving and provide social support in Horsham,” she said.

Ms Ostapiw said the group had already attracted a bit of interest.

“We’re not expecting anything amazing because we understand some trust has to be built first,” she said.

Ms Ostapiw said she hoped the group would include people from across the Wimmera.

“We have difficulty with the rural and regional aspects of this group,” she said.

“But we hope in the future we can establish a mentor or volunteer program to help people out in places like Kaniva or Nhill.

“Hopefully in the future we can run a group closer to those towns or have volunteers who can drive people.”

Ms Ostapiw said she was looking forward to seeing the group come to life.

“I can’t wait to see who shows up,” she said.

“I always find that LGBTI young people are either very confident in themselves or they are the opposite and have no idea who they are.

“However, most will immediately shine when they realise they are part of a community.”

Ms Ostapiw said the frequency of the group and what they do would be dictated by the people who attend.

“I’m assuming initially we might meet every few weeks but that could change,” she said.

“We might want to do different things, so it won’t always be sitting around talking – we might go out for pizza, or order food and watch and movie.

“We will work out what people want to do and go from there.”

Ms Ostapiw said people wanting to attend could register by calling or texting 0476 821 439, or by sending an inbox to the Wimmera Pride Project’s Facebook page.

“It will be a safe space so we need people to register,” she said.

Ms Ostapiw said she was also thankful for the support of the agencies involved – headspace and Grampians Community Health.