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Meet Philippa Moss

4 September 2023

What is your name?

Philippa Moss

How long have you been in Canberra and what do you love about it?

I was born and bred in Sydney and probably still call myself a Sydneysider because I have spent the majority of my life there.  However, Canberra holds a special place in my heart because when I moved here in my very early thirties with my two children I made a very personal decision about my life. I am now in my fifties.   But in my thirties I came out about who I am – a proud Queer woman.  I think that moving away from all the things I knew in my home town and being in Canberra empowered me to do this to come out and into the wonderful Queer community.  Canberra is truly the most LGBTIQ+ welcoming and inclusive city – I reckon Chief Minister Andrew Barr is right about that.

How would you describe Meridian ACT?

Meridian is Canberra’s leading community-controlled organisation taking action to prevent HIV, improve the health and wellbeing of people impacted by HIV and LGBTIQ+ people, and create safe and inclusive communities.

We work to increase access to HIV and STI prevention, testing, and treatment. We provide targeted health promotion activities, runs community events, and peer-led support services for all our communities.

We work to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQA+ people across their lifespans. We support young people through special projects and activities, and we have a large team of aged care navigators linking older people with supports and services. Meridian’s Wellbeing Services provide high-quality, person-centred mental health supports for those over 15 years of age.  Recently we have introduced a primary health care clinic with a GP and practice nurse.

Meridian supports sex workers through peer-led service programs and activities.  We are working with the ACT Government to realise discrimination of sex work this is vitally important as this will maximise sex workers legal protections and their ability to exercise rights including justice and health care.  This is about protection, dignity and equality.

In summary Meridian works with the community to celebrate and nurture their rich diversity and to strengthen their collective resilience against the adverse effects of stigma and discrimination and the impacts of minority stress.

What do you love about it?

My job is amazing I get to see the impact of my work every day. I have so much variety in my role, from governance, strategy and big picture to meaningful interactions with community members and clients of the service and everything in between.  I have such an amazing team of people I’m working with, we have so many different cultures and communities in the workplace with so much collective lived experience.  It’s wonderful, even on the hard days and yes there are hard days when I see people struggles or I have to make decisions that are not popular with everyone – even on those days the good outweighs the bad.

I love the communities I work with. The people with all their diversity, curiosity, colour, movement, life and living. People are fascinating, ultimately flawed but also beautiful and fun. I have honestly met some really amazing people with incredible stories.

I say this often to people who ask me about my job – “I wanted a job with a heartbeat: I landed a job with a soul.”

When you think about your time at Meridian ACT, what gives you the most pride?

There is so much about Meridian and my time there that makes me proud.  When I started 10 years ago, there were 6 staff and a small budget now we have almost 30 staff and triple the original budget.

During my time, the team and I moved the organisation from down near New Acton to Havelock House in Turner – that was a massive move as the organisation had been there for over 30 years.  We had volunteers sorting through paraphernalia and archiving important pieces of history, we had a massive sale in the last weeks and set up in new premises where we have been able to grow and evolve.

In the last few years I have re-branded the organisation, set up an evaluation system that is best practice and is able to real time measure our work to provide evidence of impact and outcomes and improve quality.  I have established a new and progressive strategic plan but most importantly I have built the capacity of the organisation to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Why would you say to someone from the LGBTQIA+ community who’s feeling like they don’t belong or feels as if they are treated unfairly?

Being able to safely affirm your gender identity and sexual orientation is crucial to mental and physical well-being. Many LGBTQIA+ people face enormous challenges when it comes to acknowledging their true identities.  To protect our community, we need to affirm our inherent humanity, dignity, value, and potential. A thriving human has strong community and selfhood, abundance, health, happiness, pleasure and wholeness.

I would say – you are whole, you are loved, YOU DO YOU !

For anyone thinking about donating or helping Meridian ACT, what would you say to them?

For 40 years, Meridian has led the way to responding to health issues affecting LGBTIQA+ people, people living with HIV and sex workers.  As an organisation that was born out of crisis, we know what it takes to ensure our communities are healthy, safe, supported and connected.  It is not easy to fundraise or seek donations for this community cohort, many people don’t understand the real experiences they face of marginalisation, stigma and minority stress and this impact this has on life and livelihood.

Much of this work is not financially supported by government and rely on donations. But the pandemic has also had a significant impact on our ability to fundraise – so we need your help, now more than ever.

Help us continue our work by making a tax deductible donation. Give as much or as little as you like – every little bit counts. Make a one-off donation or become a regular donor – any support is gratefully accepted, and all donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Get in touch with Meridian ACT here.

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Meet Kate Cleary