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Supporting Sista Girls, Retreat from the Street


Everyone deserves a home that is safe, secure and affordable. Our volunteers and staff work with people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to live safely, build life skills and community connection.

Without a safe and secure home, people who are homeless face many dangers and hardships. For Sista Girls, transgender Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, life on the streets is even more difficult.

In Townsville, North Queensland Red Cross ran a camp for our Sista Girl clients to give them a retreat from the streets.

Over three days participants were able to relax in a safe place, recuperate and speak with Red Cross case workers and other agencies to help them gain a secure place to live.

Mother Ella and Mother Gemma's Story

Mother Ella is well known in the Sista Girl community and is a spokesperson for the group. Mother Gemma is much quieter and tends to sit back more.

Mother Ella said family issues are an ongoing problem for them. Mother Ella said when she first came out as a Sista Girl, she struggled for quite a while, however, has become stronger over the last 10 years.

Mother Ella and Mother Gemma said that when they are in the community, they feel uncomfortable unless they are with other Sista Girls. Mother Ella also indicated there are not enough support services in the community to support Sista Girls.

How did they enjoy the retreat?

Mother Ella and Mother Gemma said they enjoyed the retreat very much and that it was good to have quiet time away. They both enjoyed the fishing and Mother Gemma enjoyed walking on the beach.

Mother Ella said she wanted 100% security and felt safe on the retreat. She also indicated it was good to be drug and alcohol free for the three days.

A representative from Home and Community Care, who has strong links with the LGBTI community, provided information on LGBTI friendly services and invited them to attend an advocacy group, which Mother Ella is keen to attend.

Why did you want to share your story?

Mother Ella said she'd like to be treated as an equal and not be seen as different by others.

She expressed the need for more social inclusion activities/events in the community and is hopeful they may be able to access a few more through the LGBTI community now they have a contact.

You can help.

Red Cross supports people like Mother Ella and Mother Gemma who are most vulnerable to stay safe on the streets and work towards stable accommodation.

We also work with people with mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, elderly, young people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In an average year, Red Cross helps 2180 people to find housing, supports 1360 people at risk of becoming homeless, and provides 43,400 meals to people experiencing hardship.

Your donation will help provide vital programs and services to the most vulnerable people.