Meet Philippa Moss, ahead of the 2017 LGBTQIA+ & Allies Prom

11 October 2017

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

The LGBTQIA+ & Allies Prom is an opportunity for young people to experience a formal style event and express their identity in a safe, supportive, and non-judgmental environment. Now in its second year, we’ve partnered with a number of local community organisations to make it bigger, better and more accessible.

We spoke with Philippa Moss, Executive Director of AIDS Action Council of the ACT, and acting Executive Director of A Gender Agenda, to find out why both organisations are excited to part of the 2017 LGBTQIA+ & Allies Prom.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Who am I? That is a good question – I am many things to many people. I am an HIV activist, occasional author, professional feminist and strong advocate for healthy public policy.  I am professionally driven and have an absolute love for community as the threshold of society.

I am a mother of two very tall, beautiful young people who both live in Melbourne and are doing so incredibly well. One is a professional media promoter and DJ and the other is at university studying human services.

I am a resident of Braddon and just love the current juxtaposition between the indie vibe at the hamlet and the development of the Nibu and Palko.  My life is a bit of a bubble; I live, play and work in a 3km radius and, whilst my friends joke that it is hard to drag me beyond 2612, I do, however, have a big and non-binary world view and a deep interest in global issues.

Tell us about your role at the AIDS Action Council of the ACT, and at A Gender Agenda?

I am the Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council of the ACT and have been in that role for over 4 years. I love every day, even the hard days when I have to do *shite* things like organisation restructuring or performance managing staff to ensure the Council reaches its best potential.

Beyond the day to day managerial stuff, I also get to meet amazing people, see the results of fantastic work, and experience the connection between the little stuff and the big picture. I feel incredibly lucky to have this role.

At the moment, I am assisting A Gender Agenda during a time of transition. I had no idea how much I had to learn and I can’t quantify the massive amount of personal growth I’ve experienced from my time there. I knew in theory the concept around sex, sexuality and gender but now it resonates with me in a whole different way. I feel the reality of the inescapable emotional need to express an alternative gender identity, or no gender identify at all. I respect the reasons why people reject gender roles and I can honestly say I now actively support a non-binary humanitarian world view.

Both the AIDS Action Council and A Gender Agenda recognise the central role of lived experience to our organisation, and use peer-based approaches as ways to access this expertise. We recognise the importance of embedding our work within the community and creating spaces that are safe and owned by the community.

Working within a human rights framework, the Council and AGA recognise that the health and wellbeing of community members is intimately linked to past and current discrimination and the denial of human rights. With this in mind, we work to create and nurture a happier, healthier and more equitable future for our communities.

Why are you excited to support the 2017 LGBTQIA+ & Allies Prom?

The Council and AGA are privileged to be part of the 2017 LGBTQIA+ & Allies Prom. Both organisations acknowledge that the Prom is a great way to support the community, and raise community awareness about the support and resources we can provide.

There is still lots of HIV stigma ultimately based in fear. I hope young people can champion change and understand that is a cyclical relationship between stigma and HIV; people who experience stigma and discrimination are marginalised and more vulnerable to HIV, while those living with HIV are more vulnerable to experiencing stigma and discrimination.

Why do you think it’s particularly important that we ensure young people are aware of the range of mental health services that are available here in the ACT?

Just like HIV stigma, there is stigma and discrimination when accessing mental health services. Young people are one of our community’s greatest assets; there are services and support systems in place, the important thing is to make sure young people are aware of them and feel safe and supported to access the services when they need them.

What advice would you give to LGBTI young people in Australia at present?

I recently attended an Out for Australia youth event and was shocked at how the youth of today take everything so seriously and so personally. My advice to LGBTIQ young people in Australia would be – don’t take it personally, it’s not a personal attack, the problematic issues we see in Australian society for LGBTIQ people are intrinsically political, legislative and systematic. Don’t be so angry with other people – be constructive and strategic in your call to action and work to change the system.

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