In a world-first, the Rotary Club of Woolloongabba, Qld, has established a Rotaract Pride Club in support of the LGBTIQ+ community. The club is both a reflection of the diversity of the Brisbane community it operates in and an extension of the Rotary club’s work within the LGBTIQ+ community.
For several years now, the Rotary Club of Woolloongabba has been working with organisations, such as the Queensland Aids Council and Open Doors Youth Service, that provide support to young people with diverse genders, sex and sexualities.
They also support leading LGBTIQ+ youth homelessness services, working with young people who are disengaging with the community and are at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Rotary Club of Woolloongabba member PDG Craig Bowen, who himself came out as gay several years ago, said the Rotaract Pride Club was born out of the interest of the city’s Pride Week attendees, who wanted to get involved with Rotary to make a difference within their community.
“I work at many different fundraising events across Queensland and late last year, at a fundraising event during Pride Week, I was wearing my Rotary badge. Many young people were curious to know about Rotary and after letting them know a little they wanted to join and make a difference,” Craig said.
“By the end of the day, I had a group of young, passionate people who wanted to create a Rotaract club.”
With 22 members across Queensland and Victoria, the club is open to anybody, from any background and sexual orientation, and is already working on three major projects.
They are working with Rainbow Hub to help create a safe and supportive environment for international students in Brisbane who identify as LGBTIQ+ and help them connect with local services and their community.
They are also creating a youth program to educate younger people on health and wellbeing.
Their third project involves fundraising for Open Doors Youth Service so they can continue to help their community find accommodation, provide mediation with parents, schools and other family members as well as advocacy, and provide referrals and links to safe and supportive services.
“Our job isn’t done yet,” Craig said. “Rotary sees a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change in our communities. This is important for Woolloongabba Pride Rotaract as it will assist in building connections within the areas of the community that its members have a passion for.”
By Kylie Hatfield