An Australian summer can have plenty of advantages: playing cricket, hosting a barbeque, or even watching as the sun sinks into the ocean from a picturesque spot on the beach. Naturally, when the country is a postcard for sunnier times, one would not necessarily think of its wintery climates. It gets so cold that snow brushes against the northeast side of Melbourne, Victoria, one of the most popular cities to live and visit, with a population of over 5 million.
A Queer Sanctuary
As a resident herself, Random Acts Regional Representative of Australia East, Annabel Chan, knows how jarring this weather can get, mainly when one is used to the opposite temperatures. In fact, that notion pushes Annabel to help others who may not be native to Australia. Annabel regularly donates funds to Manu Kailom’s work with Many Coloured Sky, a charity for the LGBTQIA+ community in Collingwood, Victoria, as part of their Queer Refugee and Asylum Seeker Peers (QRASP) program.
“I’ve gotten to understand the needs of his group members through our meetings and have felt strongly about finding creative ways to source support and resources for this vulnerable group that is very invisible to private and public services,” Annabel said.
Many Coloured Sky is supported by those within their LGBTQIA+ community, from their advisory group to the network of queer partner organizations. Their primary mission is to shut out discrimination and welcome others in a supportive environment. They aim to mentor others and create an engaging community full of activities as well as emotional and practical support. QRASP’s base camp was established during the COVID-19 lockdown, creating comfort and smiles during an otherwise isolating time. This experience has extended well past the lockdown. Activities include a movie night every Wednesday.
It’s a Winterful Life
Annabel recounted a memory of seeing Manu still shivering under a blanket. She then thought of those who could not afford heaters feeling that same chill. Annabel researched affordable hooded blankets online, then surprised the QRASP members with the hoodies during one of their movie nights in Refugee Week.
“The members were grateful to have something to keep them warm over winter. One of them said it was nice to feel remembered as winters can be very lonely and harsh when most come from countries that are hot all year round,” she said.