The Australian Lesbian Medical Association float
Australian Lesbian Medical Association Celebrate 20 Years At The Carrington

Katoomba’s iconic Carrington Hotel recently hosted the 20th birthday celebrations of the Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA).

75 doctors and medical students attended from around Australia and NZ and were welcomed to Gundungurra and Darug country by well-known locals, Aunty Carol Cooper and Jo Clancy from Wagana Dancers.

The Conference theme of “The Art of Medicine” gave plenty of scopes to explore the creativity of members in an art exhibition that included every media from cake decorating to watercolours to illustrated anatomy notes and kiln formed glass, as well as the creative application of the arts to health. Springwood local, Dr Claire Hooker from Sydney Health Ethics gave an overview of arts in health projects across the state with a special mention of local projects like the Young Women’s Clinic and art space at Blue Mountains Women’s Health and Resource Centre.

Another Blue Mountains local, Sue Lightfoot, a retired senior police officer, spoke on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder following years of investigating offences including child abuse, sexual assault, homicides and other traumatic incidents. She highlighted how photography had been the key to her journey of recovery. Sue now shares this passion with others in the Mountains.

ALMA is one of very few LGBTIQ NGOs with special consultative status with the Economic And Social Council of the United Nations and delegates heard how ALMA’s voice at the UN can improve human rights for LGBTIQ people not just in Australia, but also in countries in which sexuality and gender identity are still criminalized and people don’t have a voice. This was reinforced by Dr Jack Ganbaatar from the LGBT Centre, Mongolia who stressed the importance of Australian legislative changes such as marriage equality to the improvement of rights for LGBTIQ people in Asia. Dr Ruth McNair AM and Dr Liz Rickman presented on ALMA’s work on Intersex issues and LGBTIQ Refugees and work with the Pride Foundation’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Advisory Group. Dr Liz Rickman told the delegates “The Government needs to seriously review its handling of LGBTIQ refugees, both in assessing the validity of entry and in detention as these refugees are at a much higher risk for harm”.

Many ALMAs had never visited the Blue Mountains, so local bush walks, art galleries, restaurants and shopping were described as “amazing”!  The conference was voted one of the “best ever”, in part due to the wonderful location and venue in Katoomba.

ALMA is a support network for Australian and New Zealand lesbian and same-sex attracted women doctors, medical students and their partners. It was founded in 1999. As well as support, ALMA is involved in advocacy and research to improve the health of lesbian and same-sex attracted women nationally and internationally. ALMA runs DocLIST, a list of health care professionals who have been recognised and recommended by women within the LGBTQI+ community as capable of providing a safe and comfortable healthcare experience.