Fortnightly sessions by Headspace have been successful safe havens for rainbow youth in Dubbo, while also using their inputs to make community events more welcoming and inclusive.
Kaleidoscope, a support group focusing on LGBTQIA+ young people between the ages of 12 and 25 meets every other Monday. They do not have to be part of Headspace to participate in the hour-long gatherings run by community engagement officer Taylor Ryan. The group has anywhere between three to ten people in each session.
Vulnerable youth have been opening up about personal struggles and benefiting from peer discussions in the safe and welcoming space.
"It's self-assuring knowing that there are other people, and it's not just them going through these feelings. They're going through it together, sort of sharing their experiences as opposed to just them doing it by themselves," Mr Ryan said.
"It's very good for them to talk things out and find out what worked for others with similar experiences."
In 2021, LGBTIQ+ Health Australia released a snapshot of mental health and suicide prevention statistics for people in the rainbow community. Data revealed that 63.8 per cent of LGBTQIA+ young people aged 14 to 21 had been diagnosed with mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.
Mr Ryan said depression, anxiety, bullying, and confusion around gender identities were common struggles experienced by group members.
"Everybody these days has experienced some sort of bullying. Pretty much all youth do really," he said.
He also said parents had become increasingly aware of their children's struggles these days.
"Their families do support them especially now that its is more accepted as opposed to ten years ago or fifteen years ago," Mr Ryan said.
Each Kaleidoscope session begins with the group introducing themselves and their pronouns. After an icebreaker, they discuss how events in the community can be made LGBTQIA+ friendly as well as how rainbow youth can be encouraged to attend.
Most recently, members helped with planning Wear It Purple Day in Dubbo.
The group also play LGBTQIA+ themed games like Uno created by Headspace or Celebrity Head with LGBTQIA+ celebrities. They also discuss the meanings of various rainbow flags.
According to Mr Ryan, the group is a crucial foundation for building future relationships in the rainbow community.
"It's important for LGBTQIA+ youth to make those connections within the community now so they have those friends when they're older," he said.
Support is available for those who may be distressed.
- Phone Lifeline - 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline - 1800 551 800
- beyondblue - 1300 224 636
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