The Take Up Space community ambassadors represent the diverse and spectacular young people of Melbourne’s West. They were asked to share their experiences of mental health, sexual health, relationships and social identity.
Three healthcare professionals with connections to Melbourne’s West were selected to provide insight into inclusive, culturally appropriate health education.
Learn more about them by clicking the links below.
I am a community engagement worker and a creative writer. I am also of Sudanese/South Sudanese background. I am passionate about creating creative spaces that children/BPOC can use to express themselves. I aspire to advocate and contribute to change on issues that impact marginalized communities. I spend my time napping a lot, thinking about doing creative things, trying to get healthy, participating in leaderships activities, writing and doodling.
To take up space means to challenge spaces that are majority white, speak on why these spaces don’t have diversity. Be there, invite more colour to the table and create a shift on how these spaces operate.
Aretha Brown is a strong Gumbaynggirr woman who describes herself as a painter and comedian from Melbourne’s western suburbs, who is committed to creating pathways to champion young mob – significantly, through her 2017 appointment as the first woman, and youngest ever, Prime Minister of the National Indigenous Youth Parliament.
Carly Findlay OAM
Carly Findlay OAM is an award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist. Her first book, a memoir called Say Hello, was released in January 2019. Carly edited the anthology Growing Up Disabled in Australia with Black Inc Books. It’s in stores now.
She writes on disability and appearance diversity issues for news outlets including the ABC, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald and SBS.
In 2020, Carly Findlay received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her work as a disability advocate and activist.
She was named one of Australia’s most influential women in the 2014 Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards. She has appeared on ABC TV’s You Can’t Ask That and Cyberhate with Tara Moss, and has been a regular on various ABC radio programs. She has spoken at the Melbourne Writers Festival, the University of Western England and Melbourne University – to name a few. She organised the history-making Access to Fashion – a Melbourne Fashion Week event featuring disabled models. She has a Masters of Communication and Bachelor of eCommerce.
Carly identifies as a proud disabled woman – she lives with a rare, severe skin condition, ichthyosis. She organised Australia’s first Ichthyosis meet in 2015 – bringing together 75 people affected by the rare, severe skin condition Ichthyosis. 25 attendees had Ichthyosis. Friendships and support networks were formed.
Hey there! I’m from the western suburbs of Melbourne and am currently studying a Bachelor of Youth Work at Victoria University as well as working in the field. I love film and I am passionate about and Identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and aspire to help people in any way that I can.
To me, taking up space is where you can apply positivity and growth into a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual space. It is the process of providing a voice to bring a sense of belonging and wellbeing to yourself and others.
I am a Vietnamese-Australian transgender man who is also pansexual/panromantic. I am taking steps towards fostering a safer, kinder, inclusive and accessible world for folks who experience mental ill-health and/or LGBTIQA+ community members in both my formal job and personal projects outside of work. For example, reviewing trans inclusive practice guidelines and providing suggestions for improvement.
I also consider myself as a creative and artist, being an amateur drummer, producing music, writing songs, creating YouTube videos, creating short films and drawing. Moreover, I’m a huge fan of martial arts, and currently train in boxing (formerly, Taekwondo). My ultimate goal in life is to service in the Australian Defence Force as a registered psychologist; that will take time but I’ll get there with grit.
To me, taking up space means being seen for who I am, without filters or the withdrawal of my truth. It means being vulnerable with my lived experiences and sharing my story, with the hope of helping others feel safe and comfortable to be vulnerable themselves; to be seen, heard and treated as human for who they are. Creating a ripple effect of kindness, empathy and vulnerability, and simply, creating a positive difference in the lives of other humans, whether it’s big or small, gives me meaning to take up space in the world.
I am a Somali-Australian freelance journalist and writer. I enjoy self-care and candles against the backdrop of a questionable work-life balance. I spend my free time volunteering for a non-profit organisation, the East African Women’s Foundation in the inner-west suburbs of Melbourne.
Taking up space is reclaiming the narrative that was written for me. I am many things, and I will continue to be!
When I take up space, I express myself in places I find I am the minority, it’s something I’ve experienced a lot as I’ve always pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and never felt limited as to where I can go and who I can be. I explore my identity as a young mother and woman in the world, regardless of societies limiting expectations of me.
I’m Ethiopian and arrived in Australia at the age of two. When moving to Footscray at age 9 from Brisbane, my family became heavily involved in the Ethiopian community.
These days, I’m passionate about understanding the human experience, living in harmony with the natural world and spirituality to name a few. I think I definitely broke off and lived a bit alternatively to the expectations of my community but I adore my culture and take it with me wherever I go. I hope to one day run a retreat and facilitate workshops of all kinds within the healing arts.
Dr. Asiel Adan Sanchez
Dr Asiel Adan Sanchez is a non-binary general practitioner, and passionate advocate for LGBTIQ health. Asiel is a member of Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine and has a special interest in HIV medicine, gender-affirming care and mental health.
Asiel is a passionate advocate whose work has been profiled at multiple medical congresses, conferences and lectures. Outside of their clinical roles, Asiel is an academic at The University of Melbourne and a member of the Board of Directors for Minus18 LGBTQIA+ Youth Organisation.
In their free time, Asiel enjoys writing poetry and non-fiction. Their poems have appeared in Rabbit Poetry, Cordite Poetry Reivew, Voiceworks Magazine and Australian Multilingual Writing Project. Their first poetry collection, m/ /otherland, is published through Revarena Ediciones.
I am a sexuality educator living in Collingwood but with a strong love and connection to Melbourne’s West. My background is Chinese – Indonesian and Australian.
I am passionate about social justice, particularly around gender equity and sexual health rights and have spent the past decade specialising in health promotion. Before this, I completed a Bachelor of Science (Health Promotion) and a Postgraduate Diploma of Sexology.
Outside of work, I love yoga, laying in the sun with my cat George and swimming in the ocean.
Tigist Kebede is an inclusive counsellor. She employs trauma informed, decolonizing and intersectional frameworks into her practice and advocacy.
She is the founder of “The Tena Therapist” a social media mental health platform and works for Pola Psychology a culturally inclusive practice. Her work is primarily directed at addressing power and privilege and supporting minoritised people in healing and empowerment.
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