News and events

Rainbow Brick Road report shines spotlight
on LGBTQIA+ experiences

17 May 2023

A timely report looking at the lived experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community across Gippsland
has recommended an increase to mental health services, inclusivity training in health settings
and educational institutions, and development of a support network, among other initiatives.

The Gippsland Rainbow Brick Road project was created by the Gippsland Pride Initiative, who
developed a community survey and ran a series of professional development workshops
across all six shires of Gippsland on LGBTQIA+ inclusivity and experience.

Data collected from the surveys and workshops was analysed by Federation University’s
Collaborative Evaluation and Research Group.

The survey looked at the areas of workplace, family, education, healthcare services, community
groups and sporting clubs. Its findings include:

  • While 58% of participants had not experienced harassment in the workplace, almost
    half had heard negative or offensive statements or been exposed to subtle forms of
    harassment in the workplace.
  • More than 67% of participants had concerns or serious concerns for their mental health
    and 45% were not able to access
    mental health support in their immediate location.
  • Alarmingly, more than 70% of respondents had considered self-harm or suicide in their
    lifetime, only half feeling that their concerns were treated seriously.
  • Respondents said education and time were key to gaining understanding and support
    from family and friends.
  • At school, 45% felt they were not supported to be their whole selves, however, a positive
    generational change had been seen by many participants.
  • More than half the participants did not believe there were enough safe and accessible spaces
    for LGBTQIA+ people in their community. However, the majority felt supported by

    community groups they were involved with to be their whole self, and that gender and
    sexuality were not barriers to participation.
  • Those participants involved with sporting clubs found them to be supportive and actively
    promoted LGBTQIA+ policies, however, only 30 participants responded that they were

    actively engaged in sport.

The Gippsland Rainbow Brick Road report was launched earlier today to coincide with the International
Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex Discrimination and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

As next steps, the report also recommended training for health professionals to increase the number
of practitioners able to provide evidence-based clinical practice for the LGBTQIA+ community as well
as the development of an up-to-date directory of local LGBTQIA+ services.

The full recommendations and summary of findings, will be made available at

Quote attributable to Federation University’s Collaborative Evaluation Research Group Director,
Professor Joanne Porter

“The Rainbow Brick Report will help inform real change in the education, health and community
services sectors across Gippsland.”

“It was our job to showcase the voices and experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community, in order to
provide organisations and agencies with the necessary evidence towards improving services and
support in Gippsland.”

Quote attributable to Gippsland Pride Initiative Co-founder, Caitlin Grigsby

“This piece of work is to our knowledge, a first of its kind, region specific assessment of LGBTQIA+
experiences in Australia.”

“It is our hope and intention that this work results in region-specific and community-informed action,
to more effectively bridge the gaps and contribute to a fulfilling, equitable and enriching lived
experience for LGBTQIA+ Gippslanders.”

Supporting students into careers and further

20 December 2022

A pilot program that helps young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get the skills to find
employment or progress to further education and training should be expanded and rolled out beyond
the Gippsland region, a Federation University researcher says. The program, called I Am Deadly, was
offered by the Baw Baw and Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network, and researchers from
Federation's Collaborative Evaluation and Research Group have been working to evaluate its impact.

CERG director Professor Joanne Porter says the program was designed to bring the year 10-12 students
together and to deliver a program in a culturally sensitive and appropriate way, supporting the teenagers
to learn in a different format outside of the secondary school system. "Part of the success of this project
can be seen by the fact that some of the students were struggling to remain engaged with school,
but they were happy to go to Youth Space in Morwell once a week for the I am Deadly program,"
Associate Professor Porter said. "The group were engaged with hands-on activities, giving it a go with
a variety of different trades and occupations. Perhaps the most significant finding from this project was
the development of the students' career aspirations, with many going on to get part-time employment.

"The change in their confidence from week one to the end of the program has been enormous.
Being able to make eye contact and to find their voice – these are kids that were lost in the public
school system, and this program enabled them to have an opportunity to really learn in an environment
that gave them voice."They genuinely enjoyed the opportunity to come out of their regular school for
that one day a week into a different learning environment and into a very applied learning setting.
It's hands-on, very conversational with discussions and debate, and that's a different learning platform.
"Then to go on and have a work experience component gave them an opportunity to go into the
workplace and learn what it was like."

Professor Porter says the program helped the students develop their communication and practical
skills, like approaching a job interview. "Much of the training was activity-based which involved
working in teams and learning to listen to the other team members. And there were simple tasks like
building straw towers as high as possible and blindfold exercises – these are great team-building
exercises where you learn to trust one another," she said. "The program includes all the elements
essential to being in the workplace, including the teamwork, leadership and communication skills,
and the way technology fits into their futures."

The CERG team's role included speaking with the students and the program's facilitators at different
stages during the program. "Our job is to showcase what everyone's learnt along the way.
That means we're interviewing the representatives from TAFE and industries that volunteer to have
the students, as well as the students themselves and what it's meant to them," Professor Porter said.
"Of the key findings, it was recognised that a much longer program, beyond the one-year
I Am Deadly program, is needed to consolidate the learnings of the program and support them
into the future."

"If we're going to really support Indigenous students through to higher learning, whether TAFE
or tertiary settings, we need to have a three to five-year mechanism. This program is an important
first step, but the students need ongoing support, and we've seen how this can really help with
the Aboriginal Education Centre at Federation which supports our Indigenous students.
"How great would it be if this was rolled out to all year 10 Indigenous students right across
the nation? It would make a big difference to keep the students engaged with education and provide
supported career pathways."

Launch of the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA)
Career Pathways Project

20 April 2022

Mary-Anne Thomas MP and Harriet Shing MP officially launched the Career Pathways Project on the
20th of April, 2022. Funded by the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA), the project focused on  exploring
the stories of local individuals, recording their experiences and mapping their career journeys to highlight
pathways into the Health and Community Services sector in Gippsland. The project resulted in the creation
of 10 videos and two booklets which were launched at the event, and which will be used by a network of
industry partners to highlight the career pathway options available to individuals seeking a career in
Health and Community Services.

Find out more about this project and watch our Gippsland career pathway stories

CERG launch at Morwell Innovation Centre

21 February 2022

Established in 2018, the Collaborative Evaluation Unit (CEU) has become the preferred evaluation provider
in the Gippsland region and has been instrumental in evaluating innovative community projects.

On Monday 21 February, the CEU was relaunched as the Collaborative Evaluation Research Group (CERG)
at Federation University’s Morwell Innovation Centre in the Gippsland region.

CERG will work in partnership with all schools and the Health Innovation Translation Centre.
The Research Group will continue to facilitate the development of long-term, innovative, multidisciplinary
solutions for governments and the community in Victoria and beyond.


To engage CERC's evaluation services, collaborate with us or ask about our research, please get in touch via the Contact page.