VACountry provides support, counselling, rapid HIV testing, resources and information around LGBTI wellbeing, HIV, Hepatitis C and sexual health across the Loddon Mallee. Operating out of the Community Hub, VACountry provides a safe place for the LGBTI community to connect and access information resources and referral services.
Country life can be both rich and rewarding for LGBTI people, with many communities embracing and celebrating diversity. However, for some LGBTI people and people living with HIV (PLHIV), rural, regional and remote areas can mean being at higher risk of stigma and discrimination.
VACountry aims to celebrate and support the many communities and community initiatives that embrace and support LGBTI people and PLHIV whilst also responding to the identified barriers, working towards a more supportive and safe space for all.
VACountry provides a range of services both independently and in collaboration with community groups and organisations, as well as providing online and telephone services for those unable to attend the service in person.
The Community Hub
The Community Hub is the home of VACountry offering a safe and supportive space for LGBTI people and PLHIV. The Community Hub offers a range of services including:
- One-on-one peer support for gay, bi and queer men including trans men, around HIV, sex and sexual health
- Monthly HIV+ peer support group
- Information and referral for LGBTI community and links to local social and support groups
- Professional counselling for LGBTI people and PLHIV
- LGBTI social inclusive morning tea group
The Community Hub also provides a space for LGBTI and PLHIV groups to use as a safe meeting place. This is offered free of charge and is available to all LGBTI and PLHIV specific groups in the area. To make enquires about using the space for your group, please get in touch by contacting VACountry using the information below.
The VACountry Community Hub is located at 496 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo and is open for drop in from 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday. To get in contact with VACountry please phone us on (03) 4400 9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRONTO! RAPID HIV TESTING
PRONTO! Bendigo is a peer led rapid HIV and sexual health clinic that is run by and for gay, bi and trans-masculine men and men who have sex with men. The service provides a free, confidential and non-judgmental service that is safe and supportive.
Results from the rapid HIV test can be given in 15 minutes with results from the full sexual health check-up given within 10 days.
The clinic runs Thursday fortnight from 2:30pm – 7pm at Bendigo Community Health Centre, 171 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. To read more about PRONTO! Bendigo and to learn more about what the service and what to expect click here.
To make an appointment phone Bendigo Community Health Centre on (03) 5448 1600 and ask specifically to be booked into the PRONTO! Clinic.
For more information, get in contact with VACountry by phoning us on (03) 4400 9000 or email email@example.com.
VACountry offers a professional and affordable counselling service for the LGBTI community and anyone affected by HIV. Services are offered across the Loddon Mallee face-to-face at our Community Hub in Bendigo or via telephone or online platforms. Outreach support may be available depending on the circumstances.
Our fees are based on a sliding scale depending on income, however no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds.
Our counselling service can help with a range of issues, including:
- Sexuality and gender identity
- Coming out
- New or recent HIV diagnosis
- Living with HIV and/or Hepatitis C
- Intimate partner and family violence
- Anxiety and depression
- Alcohol and other drug issues
- Self Esteem
- Grief and loss
- Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- Sexual health education
VACountry counselling is part of VAC’s broader counselling service and has a specific focus on the needs of LGBTI people and those affect by HIV living in regional and remote areas. To read more about VAC’s broader counselling service click here.
PEER EDUCATION & WORKSHOPS
VACountry offers a number of Peer Education Services which are run by and for gay, bi and queer men including trans men, men who have sex with men and those who identify as non-binary. Current services include our PRONTO! Rapid HIV Testing Clinic, the ‘Sexperts’ Program as well as a number of workshops and events that are run throughout the year.
Workshops run periodically throughout the year and are styled in such a way that enables people to make new friends in a safe environment.
Some key topics covered in workshops include:
- Coming Out
- Sex and Pleasure
- HIV and Sexual Health
- AOD Recovery
- Internalised Homophobia
- Relationships and the LGBT Community
- General Wellbeing
We are always on the lookout for new topics and workshops which might suit the community, so if you have ideas or if you’d like to volunteer please feel free to get in touch. To get in contact with VACountry please phone us on (03) 4400 9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Across the Loddon Mallee there are a number of excellent initiatives and projects that VACountry supports, collaborates and participates in. From large community events like the ChillOut Festival in Daylesford and the Bendigo Queer Film Festival to more smaller and local events.
VACountry also offers support to new and established community groups who are interested in running supportive events or programs for the community. Although VACountry is not able to get involved with every suggestion we can support with:
- Idea generation and brainstorming
- Practical ways to work within a community setting
- Grant application advice and writing
- Grant auspicating
If you have an idea for a community event in the Loddon Mallee that you feel supports the LGBTI community or PLHIV we would love to hear from you. To get in contact with VACountry please phone us on (03) 4400 9000 or email email@example.com.
Information & resources
VACountry provides information, resources, training and secondary consults concerning Hepatitis, HIV, Sexual Health and LGBTI health and wellbeing to individuals, agencies and workers. Our Community Hub offers a drop-in service as well as a telephone support service during business hours that can be accessed by the community. We have a broad range of printed and online resources that we can deliver or post out for those who cannot make it into the service.
If you have any questions or simply would like to know more information about a topic please feel free to get in touch. To get in contact with VACountry please phone us on (03) 4400 9000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.