This year, the ANU hosted the annual Queer Collaborations Conference from the 7th to the 12th of July – an almost twenty-five year old gathering with delegates from the various Queer Departments of universities all across Australia, with some delegates visiting from New Zealand universities.
Approximately 200 delegates came to Canberra to workshop and learn in an effort to make their Queer Departments more inclusive and accommodating, and to address issues and marginalisation faced by Queer students in their respective universities. There was also more general discussion on topics ranging from education of safe sex, to the political factors surrounding Queer issues, and also, embracing and expanding upon the concept of Queerness within the community.
The theme of this year’s Queer Collaborations was “Queer at Heart”, and was reflected in the inclusion of workshops concerned with personal conceptions of Queer identity. Kat Reed, Officer of the Queer* Department, told Woroni that she believed the event was well organised and beneficial for members of the Department, especially in regards to the friendly and thoughtful atmosphere.
“We’ve all learnt more about ourselves and our identities, including myself,” she said.
“I was truly impressed with the organising committee as they did an excellent job of keeping everyone safe. I’m so glad to have attended and to have been able to send some lovely Queer* Department members along to such an eye opening event.”
The conference floor for the Queer Collaborations was held at the Manning Clarke Centre. One of the organised events during this conference was a political call to action outside of Parliament House on the morning of Sunday 12th July. Delegates demonstrated to raise attention for the homeless and asylum seeking that identified as Queer, and for their needs to be addressed and given housing.
Outside of these more structured meetings were workshops, organised independently of the Organising Committee. These ranged from informative presentations such as: “Introduction to Bondage” and “Mentors in Violence Protection”; panel discussions on polyamory; open debate, and recreational workshops such as Crochet 101 and body- positive workout sessions. The conference is also often social in nature, with events having run throughout the week.
A Meet & Greet event was held on the first day, which was very reminiscent of the Gender-Free Speed Dating conducted by the ANU Queer Collective at the start of each semester. Board games, a movie night, and a conclusory party for the delegates at the Hellenic Club in the City, were other events that were organised.
To coincide with the Queer Collaboration Conference, an independently edited, queer-themed publication, named “Querelle”, is often published annually. This year, it was composed by Deakin University in Victoria, and was launched both digitally and with physical copies on the night of Thursday the 9th July at the Uni Pub.
Queer Collaborations organiser Stuart Ferrie was pleased with the fi nal outcome. “We’re really happy with how the conference went this year, but most of the credit goes to the wonderful delegates,” he said.
The forthcoming annual conference for Queer Collaborations is already in development, as Queer collectives across Australia and New Zealand celebrate its’ twenty fifth year. Curtin University, in Perth, has won the bid to host the conference in 2016, while Querelle is set to be produced by the Queer Collective of the University of Queensland.