Queer Chat

Queer Chat is a social support group and safe space that meets weekly at Melbourne Campus and is for like-minded students to chat about all things queer. It’s light and fun but there is also space to share hard times with people who understand, or you can just listen.

Queer Chat meets 1pm every Wednesday during the semester.

Queer Chat celebrates all genders and sexualities (including bisexual, pansexual, fluid, asexual, questioning, transgender, non-binary and intersex students).  If you’re questioning your sexuality or gender, coming out, or you’re out and want to connect with other people dealing with similar experiences, come and join us!

How to join Queer Chat

If you’re interested in joining or would like to find out more, contact Reception at the La Trobe University Counselling Service, Melbourne Campus.

Email: counselling@latrobe.edu.au
Phone: (03) 9479 2956
In person: Counselling Office - Reception (Level 2, Peribolos East building, above Equity and Diversity)

Our receptionist will arrange a time for you to meet with the Queer Counsellor before you join the group, so that you can ask any questions about the group to see if it’s right for you, talk through any fears you may have about coming, and so that the Queer Counsellor can inform you of other supports you could link in with.

What to expect at Queer Chat

Physical Space

Queer Chat goes for one hour (1pm to 2pm) each Wednesday throughout the semester, from March to December.  People usually arrive at Counselling reception before 1pm, and then everyone is welcomed into our group room which adjoins reception at 1pm.  You will find a coffee table covered in a rainbow flag, biscuits, and a circle of chairs filled with other queer La Trobe students.

Structure

The structure of the session is that we start by going around the circle to share preferred names and pronouns, and something about when you first knew you were queer, or a coming out story.  This is so that we can all keep getting to know each other.  We usually then talk about a queer topic that people have indicated interest in (such as coming out, dealing with queerphobia, and learning about other parts of the queer community) and there is space for people to share about recent experiences or bring up other topics for discussion.

How we make the group safe and inclusive

  • We facilitate the group in a way that helps people to share experiences and support each other, and ideally experience acceptance and belonging.  We see it as a warm, gentle place that nurtures individuals as we build a strong queer community together.
  • You always have the right to ‘pass’ if you don’t feel like sharing.
  • You don’t have to know everything about the queer community or what every word/label means.  Language in the queer community is dynamic and evolving, and we don’t shame anyone about the language they use or don’t use.  We ask that people share what they mean if using obscure terminology, so that everyone is on the same page.
  • You’re welcome to ask questions.
  • You won’t be judged as ‘not queer enough’ if you’re questioning, bisexual, asexual, currently in a relationship with someone of another sex, or don’t ‘look’ queer.
  • Everyone who comes to Queer Chat agrees to abide by our safe space rules.

Confidentiality

At Queer Chat, your information is kept confidential to the high standards of the Counselling Service.  Queer Chat staff cannot share any of your information with anyone (including attendance at Queer Chat), unless you explicitly give permission.

There are some limits to confidentiality. These are:

- if there is a serious risk of harm to you or someone else.

- if we are required legally to disclose to a court, requested by subpoena.

- if you are under age 18 and disclose being currently physically or sexually abused.

- debriefing and supervision between the Queer Peers and the Queer Counsellor (or Manager of Counselling).  After Queer Chat, the facilitators discuss the session with the clear aim of improving the sessions for all members, or offering further support. This is kept confidential within Queer Chat staff and the Manager of Counselling.

Queer Chat Facilitators

Queer Chat is facilitated by the Queer Counsellor and two Queer Peers who identify as part of the community and understand what it’s like to be queer at La Trobe University.  The Queer Peers also share their experiences in the group.

Davina

Queer Counsellor
(she/her pronouns)

Davina has been working as the Queer Counsellor here at La Trobe since September 2016. Prior to that she worked as a Queer Counsellor for 6 years at another university. She has done volunteer work in the queer community since 2005, and loves that she gets to work with the queer community here on campus. Davina has completed her honours and masters degrees in psychology (as well as an arts degree in history and English), and is a registered psychologist. As a queer woman, she is proud to be part of a rainbow family with her partner and two step-Chihuahuas.

Amelia

Queer Peer
(she/her and they/them pronouns)

Amelia is a former La Trobe University student who has been working as a queer peer for two years. She loves cats, flowers and dresses, and came out as a queer trans woman who loves those things in 2015. Amelia grew up in rural Victoria and used to do a great deal of physical activity, including long distance running, tennis and football. Nowadays she is more likely to be hanging out with friends online, or taking a nap. Amelia's favourite colour is either purple or pink, and her favourite ice cream flavours are strawberry and more strawberry.

Savannah

Queer Peer
(they/them pronouns)

Savannah is a PhD student in Gender, Sexuality and Diversity Studies. They are a queer, non-binary person and love the beach, Netflix marathons and true-crime podcasts. Savannah has been involved in a number of peer-based LGBTIQA+ and sexual health programs and has a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Master of Sexology.

Other Supports for LGBTIQ+ Students

  • If you need help with issues that are better addressed in individual counselling, please make an appointment with the La Trobe University Counselling Service ((03) 9479 2956 or counselling@latrobe.edu.au).  We have a dedicated Queer Counsellor, but all counsellors at our service are queer-friendly and ALLY-trained.  We also have a ‘Drop-In’ service at 1:45pm each weekday (where you just arrive at reception and asked to be seen briefly that afternoon), and an afterhours phone counselling service (1300 687 327).
  • There is also a Queer Collective and Queer Lounge on campus run by the La Trobe Student Union, where students can hang out and meet other LGBTIQ+ people in a safe space, and be part of other social events throughout the year.
  • We celebrate Pride every year at La Trobe, usually in March, and some other queer events throughout the year.
  • If you are experiencing harassment or discrimination, Speak Up can help.
  • We have an ALLY Network of staff and students who have been trained in LGBTIQ+ awareness, and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria provides ALLY training each year to interested staff and students.
  • If you need to talk to someone, QLife is a national LGBTIQ+ helpline and chat service staffed by peers (3pm to 12am), and there are other emergency numbers you can call if you are struggling.
  • For external queer services and support groups in Victoria, you can search the comprehensive database at Rainbow Network.