David Rooney - September 2022

Many hands make right work: Meet Minus18

Minus18 is set on improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth, so they feel safe, seen, and feel like they belong. We sat down with their Fundraising Relationships Coordinator, Eva, to learn about the organisation.

Q) Tell us about Minus18. What do you do and what services do you provide?

A) Minus18 is Australia’s charity improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ youth via life-affirming events, leadership programs, and education for the whole community.

Through a preventative model of mental health support, Minus18 tackles social isolation by creating fun-filled spaces where LGBTQIA+ young people belong and are celebrated. For schools and workplaces all across Australia, Minus18 also provides LGBTQIA+ inclusion training and free digital resources to create a world where LGBTQIA+ young people are safe and belong.

Youth are at the forefront of Minus18 events – and through this they're equipping LGBTQIA+ young people with the skills they need to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Minus18 Charity group shot. Young people sitting around together on a rainbow flag path. Boring Without You, Skincare that talks.

Q) What inspired the inception of Minus18?

A) Minus18 was the brainchild of some incredible Melbourne-based parents, including the wonderful Nan McGregor, who recognised that there were no safe, age-appropriate spaces for LGBTQIA+ young people (specifically, those under 18) to socialise with their peers.

From these humble beginnings, Minus18 has expanded to offer our flagship Queer Formal events in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, as well as a wealth of other in-person and digital events, alongside LGBTQIA+ inclusion training and free digital resources for schools and workplaces all across Australia.

Q) What is one massive goal you have?

A) At Minus18, we’re dedicated to nothing less than creating an Australia free from discrimination, one which is safer and more inclusive for everyone.

Q) What is the most memorable thing that has happened since starting Minus18?

A) In 2016, there were concerns that our flagship Queer Formal event in Melbourne would be the target of protests. In an incredible turn of events, 40 LGBTQIA+ adults – all dressed up in angel wings – showed up to welcome the 600 young people attending the event, and to shield them from any potential protestors.

While no protest materialised on the night, these 40 elders and allies gave the queer youth attending a real sense of acceptance, support and solidarity.

Q) What's something we can do today to improve the mental health of young Aussies and Kiwis?

A) Everyone has a role to play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Australia and New Zealand – and there’s so much you can do even right now.

Committing to ongoing learning – even simply by accessing the articles and other resources on our website and upskilling yourself in LGBTQIA+ inclusion bit by bit – can make a real difference. Not only does it equip you to take a stand in support of LGBTQIA+ young people, it signals to any queer youth in your life that you’re someone who can be trusted and turned to.

Q) What resources or tools can you recommend to help with mental health?

A) The mental wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ young people is central to all the work we do at Minus18, but there are a few specific resources or offerings that stand out to me.

My first tip is one for young people. Since the onset of COVID, we’ve begun hosting a number of free digital events throughout the year – my favourite offering is our virtual chill out parties! They’re online spaces for young people aged 12-19 to come together virtually, share a safe and supportive space, and just chill out together! There’s no pressure to do or participate more than you’re comfortable, and it’s a great space to just relax and be among friends.

For adults, I thought I’d share one thing that we’ve started doing as a team now that we’re back in the office together. Once a week, when we’re all gathered together, we take fifteen minutes or so in the morning to sit together quietly and practice mindfully. I’ve personally found this incredibly beneficial – the days when we meditate together are the best days, both at work and in general!

Finally, I absolutely love this incredible article on our website which unpacks the difference between self-care and self-soothing (and why both are important!). It’s packed with practical tips on all the different ways you can be your own mental health ally, all of which are appropriate for young people and adults alike!

Q) How can people donate to Minus18?

A) If you’d like to donate to Minus18, head on over to our website – www.minus18.org.au – and click the big ‘DONATE’ button! If you’d like to run your own fundraiser and raise awareness of our mission, get in touch with us via the contact form on our website.