Art for inclusion in Morwell

Latrobe Valley artist Athena painted four acrylic works for Latrobe Community Health Service's art exhibition last week for togetherness. photographs anne simmons

Latrobe Valley artist Athena painted four acrylic works for Latrobe Community Health Service's art exhibition last week for togetherness. photographs anne simmons

When Latrobe Valley artist Athena was mixing acrylic paints for Latrobe Community Health Service's community art exhibition on display this week, she thought of the rainbow.

Thursday, May 17 was International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia, yet for Athena, painting the rainbow sends the positive message of "connection and bringing together".

"It's about saying 'no more' to any form of discrimination or bullying towards the LGBTIQ community," Athena said.

The artist painted four of about 20 works which were on display in the foyer at the Morwell health service for the third annual event with the rainbow flag flying.

The rainbow flag flew on Buckley Street, Morwell for IDAHOBIT Day.

The rainbow flag flew on Buckley Street, Morwell for IDAHOBIT Day.

On the day she reflected on an "amusing" moment in her past which revealed to her the "ignorance" of a man at a local pub she was walking past, openly commenting on her appearance in public.

Other memories were not amusing at all.

"When I was 19, my next-door neighbour, she was engaged to a man," Athena said.

She said with a month's notice her neighbour called off the wedding, announcing she was gay.

"I witnessed the discrimination against her. People treated her as if she was a different person," Athena said.

LCHS' Alison Skeldon announced the winners of the art competition which had a theme about togetherness.

LCHS' Alison Skeldon announced the winners of the art competition which had a theme about togetherness.

LCHS LGBTIQ working group member Jacqui Francis-Kelly said hosting an art show allowed members of the community to be involved in promoting LGBTIQ inclusion, yet they could "pick their level of distance" to interact with the issue.

"You're able to express who you are without fear of discrimination, without that direct discrimination you might experience," Ms Francis-Kelly said.

She said barriers still remained for people who were LGBTIQ because they may have experienced a lifetime of discrimination.

"Especially in regional areas, it can be really challenging to come out and be who you are without fear of discrimination," she said.

"That's why [LCHS] needs to make a really clear point; we support you to be exactly who you are and if that includes being LGBTIQ that this is a safe and welcoming space for you."

Carina Campbell-Seal's artwork (top) won the people's choice category.

Carina Campbell-Seal's artwork (top) won the people's choice category.

LCHS executive director of community support and connection Alison Skeldon announced three categories of awards on Thursday.

Best artwork went to Angus Wyatt, the people's choice award went to Carina Campbell-Seal and the winner of the young artist award was Makayla Keily.

Ms Francis-Kelly said including a category for people aged 11 to 18 was to allow everyone in the community to "understand it's OK to be exactly who you are".

Friday, May 18 is the final day of the exhibition on display in the foyer of LCHS in Morwell.

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