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Our Organisational Patron and Ambassadors
The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG (he/him)
“I am excited to be involved with the Victorian Pride Centre (VPC) as Pride Organisation Patron. I congratulate VPC on creating a hub and a focus for LGBTIQ+ people in Melbourne, Victoria and Australia. Its potential to give leadership to the community in Victoria and to create links throughout Australia, is enormous. Because of accidents of history, we tend to be divided in social activism by the boundaries of our colonial predecessors. They meekly went along with the oppressive criminal laws inherited from Imperial Britain. Only now, throughout the world, are those laws being discarded. The residue of social, health and other burdens lingers on.I hope that the VPC will be an active focus for LGBTIQ+ people, their families and friends”
When he retired from the High Court of Australia on 2 February 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. He was first appointed in 1975 as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation & Arbitration Commission. Soon after, he became inaugural Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84). Later, he was appointed a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia, then President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-96) and, concurrently, President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-6). His appointment to the High Court of Australia followed in 1996 and he served thirteen years. In later years, he was Acting Chief Justice of Australia twice.
In addition to his judicial duties, Michael Kirby has served on three university governing bodies being elected Chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney (1984-93). He also served on many national and international bodies. Amongst the latter have been service as a member of the World Health Organisation’s Global Commission on AIDS (1988-92); as President of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva (1995-8); as UN Special Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia (1993-6); as a member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee (1995-2005); as a member of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Judicial Reference Group (2007- 9) and as a member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004- 2019).
Following his judicial retirement, Michael Kirby was elected President of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia from 2009-2010. He served as a Board Member of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (2009-14). He has been appointed Honorary Visiting Professor by twelve universities. And he participates regularly in many local and international conferences and meetings. He has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates at home and abroad. He also serves as Editor-in-Chief of The Laws of Australia (2009 – ) and Chair of the Board of the Criminal Law Journal (1979-).
He served 2011-12 as a member of the Eminent Persons Group on the future of the Commonwealth of Nations. He was a Commissioner of the UNDP Global Commission of HIV and the Law 2011-2012. He was appointed to the Advisory Council of Transparency International, based in Berlin in 2012. In 2013- 2014, he was appointed Chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights Violations in North Korea. He a Commissioner of the UNAIDS Lancet Commission on AIDS to the Right to Health (2013-2014); the Global Fund’s Equitable Access Panel (2015-16); the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Access to Essential Medicines (2015-16); and UNAIDS/OHCHR’s panel on overreach of criminal law (2017); and Co-Chair of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (2018 – ).
He was awarded the Australian Human Rights Medal in 1991, the Gruber Justice Prize in 2010 and has been Patron of the Kirby Institute on Blood Borne Diseases in UNSW Sydney, Australia since 2011. In May 2017, he was invested by Japan with the insignia of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star in Tokyo, with an audience with the Emperor of Japan. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales (Est. 1866). He was also named for the 2018 United Nations Honour by the United Nations Association of Australia. In 2019 he was appointed a Distinguished Fellow of Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). He was also named winner of the Global 100 Firm of the Year – Arbitration – Australia and Bali International Arbitration and Mediation Centre named him one of the 2019 BIAMC top 10 arbitrators in Asia/Pacific. In 2019 Macquarie University conferred on him the honorary title of Chancellor Emeritus “as a public recognition of [his] exceptional and distinguished service to the University, and in perpetuity”. In 2020 Trinity College Dublin presented Praeses Elit Award to him.
Community Advocate, Performance Artist
Melbourne based LGBTIQ+ community advocate Amao is New Zealand born and of of Samoan descent. One of eight siblings, her family first migrated to Australia in the 1980’s.
Amao’s interest in LGBTIQ advocacy came from her interest in “community affairs and seeing the need for more trans and queer people of colour representation in rainbow community spaces. Also seeing and experiencing the general negative treatment and discrimination of trans people both here in Australia and internationally led me to want to actively do more and get involved in bringing awareness to our issues and hopefully make a difference”.
She is currently engaged in private consultation work and performance art.
“I accepted being an Ambassador for the Pride Centre as a great way to encourage and engage the communities I belong to get involved. I am humbly proud to wave and bring my Samoan, pacific, fa’afafine and trans woman of colour flavours to the table.”
Australian writer and broadcaster
Benjamin Law is an Australian writer and broadcaster. He’s the author of The Family Law (2010), Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012), the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 (2017) and editor of Growing Up Queer in Australia (2019). Benjamin created and co-wrote three seasons of the award-winning SBS TV series The Family Law, based on his memoir, and his sold-out debut play Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company) ran February–March 2020. In 2019, he was named one of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit’s (AALS) 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians (winning the Arts, Culture & Sport category) and one of Harper Bazaar‘s Visionary Men. He has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
Every week, Benjamin co-hosts ABC Radio National’s weekly national pop culture show Stop Everything and interviews public figures for Good Weekend. He also co-hosts online startup and tech TV show That Startup Show, and you can catch him on TV shows like Q&A (ABC), The Drum (ABC), The Project (Ten), Filthy Rich and Homeless (SBS) and the ABC’s two-part feature documentary on Chinese-Australian history, Waltzing the Dragon. He has also written for over 50 publications in Australia and beyond—including the Monthly, frankie, Guardian, Monocle and Australian Financial Review.
Benjamin is based in Sydney. He is co-chair of the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network, board member of Story Factory and Sydney Festival, and ambassador for Plan Australia, the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Victorian Pride Centre, Bridge for Asylum Seekers and the Pinnacle Foundation.
“I’m super proud to be an ambassador for … pride. Which sounds slightly meta, but what I mean by that as I’m proud to be an ambassador for the Victorian Pride Centre. As the hub for organisations I’ve long admired and supported – including JOY FM, Minus 18, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Switchboard Victoria, the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council and more – it’s basically going the architectural equivalent to one giant queer Voltron. For so long, our community – especially our elders and leaders – have been fighting for a safe, equal and inclusive Australia, and the opening Victorian Pride Centre is going to be a landmark milestone in that story and fight. “
Photo credit: Daniel Francisco Robles
Brook Andrew is a Wiradjuri/Celtic contemporary artist who works across installation, painting, sculpture, neon and with found and archival objects. He is best known for his museum and archival interventions that reveal forgotten stories and offer different ways of interpreting history in the world today. He is the current Artistic Director of NIRIN, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Associate Professor in Fine Art at Monash University and Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne.
“I am very excited to be an Ambassador and to share my creative experience and connections with local community and visitors.”
Photo credit: Trent Walter
Boy, Girl. Artist, Advocate
Boy, Girl. Artist, Advocate. Courtney Act is more than just the sum of her parts.
They are a contemporary artist who embodies the zeitgeist of an era.
“I’m delighted to be an Ambassador for the Victorian Pride Centre. A centre that is already emerging as a cornerstone and beating heart of our fabulous community.
Olympic Hockey Gold Medallist, , Chair of the National Australia Day Council, State Sports Centre of Victoria Trustee, Director of the St Kilda Football Club and a Member of the Strategic Advisor Committee, Secretary Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs.
Danni is an Olympic Hockey Gold Medallist 1996, Chair of the National Australia Day Council, a State Sports Centre of Victoria Trustee, Director of the St Kilda Football Club and a Member of the Strategic Advisor Committee, Secretary Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs.
“Born and raised in Victoria and having lived in St Kilda I am delighted to be a part of this initiative of national significance. The incredible dedication and vision of the individuals who drove this project now needs our support to make this wonderful opportunity an ongoing success. Congratulations and thank you to those individuals who turned a vision into a reality.”
Greg Axtens was born in the 1950’s and went to school at Yooralla in Balwyn from 1967 and left in 1972.
Greg attended Marathon in Malvern, until 1974, went to Dame Mary Herring Day centre in Armadale, but left there at the end of 1975. It was then that Greg moved into Beach House in Seaford and attended Chelsea Spastic Day Centre until 1986.
Greg came out back in 1978 after watching a television show called No 96. Then in 1984, somebody read The Kensington Report to Greg. He said this was when he knew for sure! Soon after was Greg’s first experience of attending a gay bar was in Prahran at the Exchange Hotel.
From Chelsea Spastic Day centre, Greg accomplished getting work at South East Industries in Clayton and left in 2001.
In the year of 1998, Greg moved into Wesley Disability Residential in Carrum, now known as Uniting Vic Tas. But it was in 2001 that Greg became his own person.
Greg said “I am very proud to become an Ambassador for the Pride Centre. For disabled people in Melbourne, I think this will be a home for them. And I think our journey has just begun.”
Co-founder of Pride Cup Australia
Jason Ball is a pioneering LGBTIQ+ and mental health advocate, who in 2012 came out as gay and spearheaded a campaign to tackle homophobia in the AFL. He is the co-founder of Pride Cup Australia, an organisation that works with all levels of sport to create pride activations and deliver education to increase LGBTIQ+ visibility and engagement.
In 2017, Jason was named Young Australian of the Year for Victoria.
“Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ community is already one of the world’s most vibrant, but with the establishment of a state-of-the-art Pride Centre we really will become the envy of the world. I can’t wait until it opens and am so proud to offer my support.”
Photo credit: by Foundation for Young Australians
Freelance journalist, broadcaster and MC
After over 20 years as a broadcaster with ABC Radio National, ABC TV and Network Ten, Julie is now a freelance journalist, broadcaster and MC. She has qualifications in the arts, education and law. Julie has co-hosted several TV broadcasts for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Julie became active in Gay Liberation at Sydney University in 1974. She attended countless demonstrations and was arrested many times. Julie was involved in the first Mardi Gras protest outside the former Darlinghurst Police Station in 1978. Julie remembers the gay activism of the 70s and 80s as a time of trauma, but also of exciting comradeship. She says it was a joy to fight back against the gross discrimination of that era before homosexuality was decriminalised.
Julie first spoke in favour of same-sex marriage at The Sydney Institute in 1999. When she was diagnosed with cancer, Julie asked her partner of over 20 years, Melissa Gibson to marry her. In 2014, Julie and Melissa married in Manhattan in the presence of their two adult children, Luke and Amelia. In 2019, Julie was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly through LGBTIQ+ advocacy roles and to the broadcast media. She also received the ACON President’s Award in 2019 for her longstanding advocacy for the rights, health and visibility of sexually diverse people in NSW.
“I am deeply committed to the establishment of the Victorian Pride Centre. I believe it will be an invaluable hub for individuals and organisations to work together to improve the lives of Rainbow people and raise community awareness of the challenges we still face, especially young people in some faith-based and immigrant communities. I believe the Victorian Pride Centre will be a place where LGBTIQ+ people can truly relax because it will be our safe place. Since I visited the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Centre, I’ve longed for a similar centre in Australia. Now that dream is coming true.”
Photo credit: Jane Dempster
Jewish, queer, non-binary writer, performer, activist and public speaker
Nevo is a Jewish, queer, non-binary writer, performer, activist and public speaker based in Naarm/ Birraranga / Melbourne. With a particular focus on issues surrounding gender, sex, culture and sexuality, they run workshops in schools and workplaces around trans issues. They are the author of award-winning Finding Nevo, a memoir on gender transition and a contributor to Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA stories. They are also a member of the Gender Euphoria cast – Australia’s largest all trans & gender diverse show on a main stage.
“I decided to support the Pride Centre because I believe in creating community and nourishing new initiatives. Our communities are fighting for so much, all the time, we are full of grief and resilience. We also need spaces for rebuilding, organising and supporting each other. I believe the Pride Centre can be this place and I want to be a part of that.”
Photo credit: Proud Minority
Professor, CEO, Chair and board member in business and NFP sector, the public sector and philanthropy.
As a woman with a lifelong disability, Professor Galbally first began focusing on disability rights and policy in the early 1980s while working at the Victorian Council for Social Services. Professor Galbally next became the CEO of the Sidney Myer Fund and the Myer Foundation, in that role she served as Chair of the Australian Association of Philanthropy.
Professor Galbally was appointed as the founding CEO of a number of new organisations, including the Australian Commission for the Future, the Australian International Health Institute, the Australian National Preventative Health Agency and Our Community Pty Ltd. Professor Galbally established the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) as the first organisation in the world to use a levy on tobacco for tobacco control, reducing demand for alcohol, tackling risk factors for heart disease, cancer and diabetes, injury prevention, sexual health and mental health promotion. Professor Galbally was appointed as the Independent Chair of the Review of Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Legislation (the Galbally Review).
Professor Galbally chaired the Royal Women’s Hospital. She was a member of the expert four-person panel that developed the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Professor Galbally then went on to chair the Federal Government’s National People with Disability and Carers’ Council.
Singer, writer, artistic director and public advocate for the arts.
Robyn Archer AO FAHA is a singer, writer, artistic director and public advocate for the arts. Internationally recognised for her specialisation in classic European cabaret and her phenomenal contribution to the arts (especially her artistic direction of major Australian international arts festivals), Robyn currently has four different concert performances in repertoire, a new CD released in March 2019 (Classic Cabaret Rarities), and premieres a new show in June 2020. Robyn is an Officer of the Order of Australia, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), Officer of the Crown (Belgium) and holds Honorary Doctorates from six Australian universities.
FAHA – Fellow of the Academy (Australian Academy of Humanities)
“When I began the relatively short process of recognising my sexual preference, some sixty years ago, and confirming it positively for myself a few years later, I didn’t know how to name it, and had absolutely nil models, either in life or in film or literature. But I was lucky: I had parents who demanded nothing from their only child but that she stay alive and be happy and healthy. I was free to be whatever I wanted. While models now abound and laws about inclusivity and equality have changed so much for the better, others, to this day, are still not so lucky, and in an atmosphere, both local and global, of increasing conservatism, the presence of the Pride Centre will offer a haven for those discriminated against, and a place to celebrate diversity.”
Photo credit: Claudio Raschella
Award-winning Australian show runner, writer and director
Tony Ayres is an award-winning Australian showrunner, writer and director, and is one of the founding members of internationally renowned Australian production company Matchbox Pictures, now owned by NBC Universal Studios. In 2018 Tony established his own production company Tony Ayres Productions (TAP), developing and producing feature films and television for global audiences and international marketplaces.
Tony was the showrunner on International Emmy and BAFTA nominated series, The Slap and an EP on its US remake. He co-created and was Executive Producer on multi-award winning series Glitch (3 seasons). He was also an executive producer on International Emmy nominated Wanted (3 seasons), and multi-award winning series The Devil’s Playground, Old School, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, and The Straits. He executive produced comedy series The Family Law (3 seasons), Bogan Pride and Maximum Choppage. He produced miniseries Barracuda and the multi- award winning Seven Types of Ambiguity. He directed the multi-award winning TV movie, Saved.
In children’s TV, Tony created and executive produced the International Emmy and BAFTA award winning Nowhere Boys and the telemovie based on the series, Nowhere Boys: The Book of Shadows. The series is internationally acclaimed, winning the AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series, two Logies, three Kidscreen Awards, a Rockie, and a Prix Jeunesse Award.
In feature films, Tony directed Cut Snake (2015), The Home Song Stories (2007) winner of 24 international and Australian awards, and Walking on Water (2002), which premiered at the Berlinale. He also EP’d feature films Ali’s Wedding and Lou.
Currently Tony is the showrunner for upcoming US Netflix series Clickbait, and co-created and EP’d the Matchbox/ABC refugee detention centre drama Stateless alongside Cate Blanchett and Elise McCredie. Stateless stars Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Dominic West and Cate Blanchett.
Public intersex human rights advocate, Co-executive Director of Intersex Human Rights Australia, President of Intersex Peer Support Australia, the Intersex Chair of ILGA World and the co-chair of the Victorian Government’s Intersex Expert Advisory Committee
Tony Briffa has been a public intersex human rights advocate for 25 years and is a current Co-executive Director of Intersex Human Rights Australia, President of Intersex Peer Support Australia, the Intersex Chair of ILGA World and the co-chair of the Victorian Government’s Intersex Expert Advisory Committee. Tony is also a current third term elected City Councillor, a former Mayor, a Justice of the Peace, former Bail Justice and has previously worked for the Department of Defence and Australian Federal Police.
Tony’s vast experience on intersex issues not only stems from her experience as an intersex person who was diagnosed at birth and mistreated as a young child, but also through her 25 years of working with intersex people, clinicians, politicians, human rights experts and the media. Tony has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs, been featured in articles about intersex human rights, spoken at many conferences and developed and delivered training to government departments, corporations and community organisations about intersex issues. Tony has received various awards such as the “Top 50 LGBTI Leaders Award” in 2017. Tony is also one of the authors of key international intersex statements such as the Darlington Statement (2017) and the Malta Declaration (2013).
“As a proud member of the LGBTIQ+ community, I am very honoured to be a Pride Ambassador. The Victorian Pride Centre will be a very special hub for our community in Victoria, and especially given the pandemic and so many of our community’s physical venues no longer in existence, it’s important we have physical places where we can come together to collaborate and meet as a community. I’m very happy to help promote and support the Victorian Pride Centre in any way, and encourage all LGBTIQ+ people in Victoria to visit it when it opens and keep in touch via social media.”
PERFORMER, WRITER, ARTIST AND COMEDIAN
Zoë Coombs Marris a performer, writer, artist and comedian who has performed stand up to audiences all over the place. Her solo show, Trigger Warning, won the 2016 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) Award for Most Outstanding Show as well as the Golden Gibbo, and two Green Room Awards. It was also nominated for Best Show at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Drama.
Since 2013 Zoë most frequently appeared in comedy circles (including in her MICF award-winning show Trigger Warning) as Dave, a retrograde male comedian with a neck beard. But in 2018 she appeared as herself, sans Dave’s neck beard, with her hit festival offering Bossy Bottom. The show saw Zoe nominated for Best Comedy Performer at the Helpmann Awards and won her a prestigious Herald Angel Award in Edinburgh. Bossy Bottom was released on Amazon Prime Video in April 2020.
“I am very Proud to become a Pride Ambassador for the Pride centre. Did I mention I am proud? This incredible new centre represents an exciting new era for our community. As a home for LGBTIQ+ community organisations it will provide a much-needed safe haven, a place to share and connect and, knowing us, probably party. Not only that, but now that it’s all in the one building – it will provide a convenient place to bump into all of my exes.”