13 November 2022

Rainbow Wave returns to celebrate pride in the Bega Valley this year

| Albert McKnight
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Revellers at last years Rainbow Wave festival, held in Pambula. Photo: Rainbow Wave Facebook.

Revellers at the 2019 Rainbow Wave festival, held in Pambula. Photo: Rainbow Wave, Facebook.

The Bega Valley’s only youth-led pride festival is back on this year, with the aim of breaking down stigma while having a spectacular time.

The Rainbow Wave Festival celebrates its local LGBTQI+ community and will feature entertainment, workshops, service stalls, market stalls and more in December.

While last year’s event had to be held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is back in person for 2022.

The festival was born three years ago, with the plan to increase the visibility of the local LGBTQI+ community and celebrate the diversity in the region.

But part of the reason why it is held is because LGBTQI+ people are still overrepresented in mental health statistics, largely due to discrimination.

“The tide is changing, and acceptance is growing, but not nearly quick enough,” festival organisers said.

“Change starts from the ground up, within communities like ours.”

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A disproportionate number of LGBTQI+ people face poorer mental health outcomes and have a higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers, an October 2021 report from LGBTQI+ Health Australia (LHA) said.

For instance, when compared to the general population, LGBTQI+ people were nearly six times more likely to experience or have depression, those aged 16 to 17 were almost five times more likely to have attempted suicide, and young people were more than four times as likely to self-harm.

Sadly, 25.6 per cent of LGBTQI+ people aged 16 and 17 had attempted suicide.

The experience of LGBTQI+ adults during the COVID-19 pandemic was explored in a different report released last month by LHA and La Trobe University, which suggested “the pandemic made an already challenging situation worse”.

One fifth of the research’s participants were temporarily or permanently stood down from their jobs, two-thirds felt their mental wellbeing got worse and 56 per cent sought professional support for their mental health.

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Also, 17 per cent experienced violence from their partner and 29 per cent experienced violence from a family member during the pandemic.

“Immediate action is required to reduce health disparities and ensure that the wellbeing of LGBTQ communities does not deteriorate further,” the report recommended.

The 2022 Rainbow Wave Festival will be held at Oaklands Event Centre in Pambula on 3 December from 2 – 6 pm.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the digital mental health gateway, Head to Health.
If you are concerned about suicide, living with someone considering suicide, or bereaved by suicide, the Suicide Call Back Service is available at 1300 659 467.

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