The REAL Big Hug

In 2018, LGBTIQ Victorians and their allies were invited to a celebration of our strengths and our allies that helped us get through the Marriage Equality Postal Vote. We celebrated our allies in the broader community and had a look at what we can do to be even better allies to each other within LGBTIQ communities.

The event was hosted by Ro Allen, Gender and Sexuality Commissioner. The concept is by Michelle Sheppard and Anastasia Le and the event was coordinated by Alice’s Garage. It was a wonderful event – the photos tell the story. This page includes photographs, films and a community report summarising feedback on what makes a good Ally.

The REAL Big Hug is dedicated to Ayman Barbaresco (pictured above right) who gave so many of us REAL hugs through his advocacy work and friendship. RIP Ayman. We miss you. 


Thanks to photographer Julian Meehan for the beautiful photos … coming soon


Thanks to Akasha Temple for the two fabulous videos from the REAL big Hug:

Leaning In

We asked participants to tell us what we can to to be even better allies to each other within LGBTIQ communities. The themes were analysed to produce a postcard and a brief community report – see link here: RealBigHugReport

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Special thank you to Kenton Miller for his beautiful images that helped us to promote the REAL Big Hug.

Support services

There are a range of services that provide support to LGBTIQ+ Victorians

  • Switchboard Victoria provides peer based support for LGBTIQ people and their friends, family and allies. Switchboard is a Victorian partner in the national telephone and web counselling, information and referral service (QLife) and are available 3pm – 12am every day on 1800 184 527 or web:
  • Queerspace provides a safe and supportive space to obtain information and access services aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the queer and LGBTIQA+ communities. queerspace is staffed by queer identified practitioners, counsellors, group facilitators and community engagement workers. we are a community space run by drummond street services that advocates, supports, researchers and engages through community driven voices and events with the LGBTIQ community. Phone: 03 9663 6733 or go to web by clicking the link here
  • VAC counselling service: the first session is free and from then on fees are based on a scale depending on your income. Open Monday to Thursday 9am – 8pm. Friday 9am – 4pm. Phone (03) 9865 6700 or web:
  • QLife is Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for LGBTIQ people. QLife are available from 5:30pm – 10:30pm and can be contacted on 1800 184 527 or web:
  • beyondblue provides a free phone service 24 hours a day on 1300 22 4636 or web:
  • Lifeline is a free phone service available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14 or web: 

The REAL Big Hug is supported by

The REAL Big Hug was generously supported by Queerspace at Drummond Street Services the Maribyrnong City Council.