LGBTQI+ Interest Group

The LGBTQI+ Interest Group aims to raise awareness and advocate for LGBTQI+ issues within PACFA and to promote good practice when working with LGBTQI+ clients. This includes developing practice resources and professional development opportunities around working with LGBTQI+ clients.

In 2018, the Leadership Group of the LGBTQI+ Interest Group reviewed PACFA’s Position Statement on Therapeutic Support for LGBTQI+ clients and their families. This important document ensures safe practice by explicitly prohibiting the practice of so-called conversion therapies which have been found to be harmful to LGBTQI+ clients.

In January 2020, a new Leadership Group formed, to bring new ideas and energy to the Interest Group. All Leadership Group members bring expertise and experience of LGBTQI+ issues. 

In July 2020, the Leadership Group recently made a brief policy submission to the National Mental Health Commission (NMHC), raising concerns over the treatment of LGBTQI+ people with lived experience in the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan 2020. Read the full submission here

LGBTQI+ Leadership Group Members

Dr Gávi Ansara (Convenor) (He/Him)
Dr Gávi lives on the sovereign lands of the Boon Wurrung People of the Kulin Nations in Victoria. He is a multilingual, polycultural, migrant man of faith with lived experience of disability, homelessness, racist violence, and poverty who grew up in urban and rural China, Australia, and elsewhere.

He has a PhD and MSc in Psychology (University of Surrey, England), a Master of Counselling (Monash), and a BA in International and Cross-Cultural Health with African Studies. He has 15+ years of multi-national Anti-Oppressive Practice experience working alongside people and communities with marginalised lived experiences. He is an AAFT-Accredited Clinical Family Therapist and Clinical Member of the College of Psychotherapy and College of Relationship Counsellors. He has specialist qualifications in complex trauma, dissociation, family and community trauma, youth and refugee mental health, emotionally aware child caregiving, and group facilitation. He testified at an Australian Senate Inquiry on medical abuse of intersex people, led a national consultation on LGBTQI+ experiences of family violence, and serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Transgender Health.

Dr Gávi is an internationally recognised psychotherapist, researcher, clinical educator, community activist, and policy advisor. He received the American Psychological Association’s Transgender Research Award for original and significant research on cisgenderism—forms of systemic oppression that invalidate people’s own classifications and understanding of their genders and bodies—in approaches to young people. He also received the UK Higher Education Academy’s National Psychology Postgraduate Teaching Award for excellence in teaching psychology and the University of Surrey Vice Chancellor’s Alumni Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to standards and policies in international human rights and social justice.

PJ Menon (She/Her)
PJ is a queer woman of colour living in Boorloo (Perth), Western Australia. PJ is a mental health clinician for headspace Midland and Youth Focus, specialising in work with young people 12-25. She supports organisations in creating more inclusive workspaces by facilitating training and resource distribution, collaborating with other agencies to create safe spaces specific to LGBTIQA+ youth, and consulting around issues relevant to LGBTIQA+ and culturally diverse young people. PJ completed a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy. She is a provisional registrant with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

PJ is of Indian descent, and was born and lived in Malaysia, before moving to Australia at age 9. Her experiences as a queer woman of colour have sparked a determination to advocate for both LGBTIQA+ and culturally diverse groups. PJ has a particular interest in providing support for people at the intersection between these two groups due to the ‘double discrimination’ often faced by those affected. PJ also does some paid and volunteer work for Living Proud, Western Australia’s longest running LGBTIQA+ service, and sits on a number of committees focused on diversity and inclusion. PJ is currently working as a long-term youth counsellor and LGBTIQA+ community outreach worker and is completing an Advanced Graduate Diploma in Psychology.

Dr Kieran O’Loughlin (They/Them or He/Him)
Kieran currently works in private practice, working mostly with gender and sexually diverse clients from various cultural backgrounds. They specialise in counselling people who are in same-gendered intimate relationships (including relationships involving partner violence) and/or at risk of, living with or affected by HIV. Kieran concurrently holds the position of Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Counselling at the Australian College of Applied Psychology at the Melbourne Campus where they teach within the Bachelor, Graduate Diploma and Masters programs. Kieran holds a Master of Counselling (with high distinction) from La Trobe University and has specialist qualifications in relationship counselling and HIV test advice. They were previously employed at Thorne Harbour Health (formerly the Victorian AIDS Council) as a senior counsellor, manager, clinical supervisor as well as training and capacity building specialist. In addition to their counselling qualifications and experience Kieran holds a Masters and PhD in Applied Linguistics, specialising in cross-cultural communication, and second language acquisition and assessment. They worked at both RMIT University and the University of Melbourne for more than twenty years, teaching and managing programs in English as an Additional Language (EAL) to adult refugees and immigrants as well as international students. They are also a qualified French teacher and have previously taught both French and EAL in secondary schools in Australia and France. Prior to transitioning into counselling and psychotherapy, Kieran held the position of Senior Lecturer in Second Language Education at the University of Melbourne.

Kieran is a full clinical member of PACFA as well as an accredited clinical supervisor and mental health practitioner. They were a member of the leadership team of the inaugural PACFA LGBTIQ Interest Group from 2017-2018. Kieran is passionate about the use of affirmative therapy for members of LGBTIQ+ communities to enhance their individual lives and relationships.

Jade Wren Pearson (She/Her)
Supporting LGBTQI+ communities is due in part to my lived trans experience. I completed my transition over 10 years ago. In addition to my experiences in becoming the woman I always believed I am, rejection by family and others, poor coping behaviours, mental health challenges, reconnection and success in a new career have been significant learning opportunities.

To my lived experience, I bring a wealth of professional capabilities to my integrative counselling practice framework that includes Gestalt Therapy, Schema Therapy, and Internal Family Systems. However, my work is informed primarily by attachment theory, early developmental and complex trauma, and their links to sexuality and identity, low esteem, internalised stigma, study and life goals, interpersonal issues and more.

LGBTQI+ clients are not the exclusive focus of my counselling work. I practice privately as Wren Counselling and this follows my time as a counsellor with Westlund Counselling at Meridian (formerly the AIDS Action Council of the ACT).

Carolyn Rogers (She/Her) 
I have recently opened my own counselling studio, Obsidian Counselling for Mental Health Well-Being on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. My aim for the studio is to provide a safe and accepting space for those from the LGBTIQ+ communities to just be their true and authentic Self and to enhance their mental health well-being. 

I have completed both a Master of Counselling and Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at the University of the Sunshine Coast. My research project for my Masters’ degree focused on an under-researched group, individuals over 25 years of age who are questioning and or have disclosed their sexual orientation in adulthood to Self and others, and the impacts on their mental health during this time of discovery and identity transition.  I have a keen interest in further developing my skills in mental health research utilising expressive art therapy, with a focus on the LGBTIQ+ communities.

I am excited to be part of the PACFA LGBTIQ+ Leadership Group and working with the other members to enhance the mental health well-being of the LGBTIQ+ communities through inclusive practice. 

Don Secomb (He/Him) 
Prior to his role on the Leadership Group, Don was a member of the PACFA Board for four years. Don also served for two years on the Management Committee of the Queensland Counsellors Association (a founding member association of PACFA) during which time he was a QCA delegate to the PACFA Council and Chair of the QCA Professional Development Committee for a period of time. Awarded a Master of Counselling in 2011 from the University of Queensland, Don has also attained a Graduate Certificate in Artistic Therapies in 2008, a Graduate Diploma of Holistic Counselling in 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts in 1987 from the University of Queensland studying History and Psychology. Currently, Don works as a Case Worker with the Queensland Corrective Services Department under the auspices of Drug ARM Australasia. He has previously worked for a number of years as venue Team Leader for a large counselling and mental health organisation in Brisbane, Queensland, facilitating the work of 13 practitioners and 3 administration officers in 6 programs. He has also held counselling positions with QLife telephone counselling service, the QIDDI diversion program and volunteered for the Gay and Lesbian Welfare Association of Queensland. Don is a life member of the Queensland AIDS Council.

Trish Thompson (She/Her)
Trish Thompson, BA, Dip Ed, MA Counselling and Human Services, Grad Cert in Male Family Violence, is a clinical counsellor and supervisor in private practice in North Fitzroy, Melbourne. Trish started her career as a secondary teacher and then moved into counselling, working with adolescents and their families for over 10 years. She has worked in community settings, particularly with the LGBTIQ+ communities.  Trish’s client work is grounded in emotion focused therapy and mindfulness-based practices. She has facilitated Men’s Behaviour Change groups for Relationships Australia and is dedicated to helping clients create and maintain healthy, respectful relationships. Trish is the deputy convenor of the leadership group of the PACFA College of Relationship Counsellors and teaches in the Bachelor of Counselling degree at the Australia College of Applied Psychology.

Francis Voon (He/Him) 
Francis lives and works on the lands of the Cadigal of the Eora nation (Sydney NSW). Francis uses he/him pronouns and is a gay, cisgender person of colour who is a diversity-friendly psychotherapist in private practice. He is connected with Imanadari Counselling, Jansen Newman Institute, the Somatic communities, and the Centre for Existential Practice (where he is completing Supervisor training). His previous backgrounds have been in education, health, nonviolence, and Rainbow faith and multicultural communities.

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