Decolonising the Queer and Queering the Decolonial: Queer, Young, and Indigenous

Speakers: Oscar Monaghan; Ellen O’Brien; Maddee Clark.

Queer and decolonising praxes emerged, and continue to develop, in the conversations we have with each other. What does it mean that the language we have to describe our intimacies is an inherited legacy of invasion? What are the parallels between the politics of passing in queer circles and the politics of passing in the context of Indigeneity – and when do those parallels diverge? What are the relations at play in queer relationships between Indigenous and settler – when those relationships are platonic/sexual/romantic?

We explore these questions and others in a wide-ranging discussion that centres Indigenous voices. We invite other Indigenous people to participate in the conversation with us.


Lapping at our doors: indigenous and pacific perspectives on and resistances to Climate Change, and struggles for ecological justice.

Speakers: Noelene Nabulivou, Latai Taumoepeau and Ellen van Neerven

Noelene Nabulivou: “Resistance for survival/liberation? pacific small island states, climate and ecological justice” 

Noelene is part of Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality and other lesbian/queer/southfeminist/WHRD groups. She will speak about climate and ecological justice work as resistance and liberatory projects, sharing on work in the Pacific to disrupt and dismantle oppressive systems as much as building possibilities for alternate futures in a fierce (new) world. Noelene Nabulivou works with others in local, national, regional and global spaces for gender, social, economic, climate and ecological justice, sexual rights, and universal human rights. She is a political adviser at Diverse Voices and Action (DVA) for Equality Fiji, works with DAWN, and as part of many Pacific small island states, south feminist, WHRD, LGBTQi+, sex and gender diverse and other social movements

Latai Taumoepeau: “Saltwater Sovereignty”

Artist | Performance Maker | Provocateur. Latai Taumoepeau is a punake, body-centered performance artist; her story is of her homelands, the Island Kingdom of Tonga and her birthplace; the Eora Nation– Sydney, and everything far and in-between. She mimicked, trained and un-learned dance, in multiple institutions of knowledge, starting with her village, a suburban church hall, nightclubs and a university. Latai activates Indigenous philosophies and methodologies; cross-pollinating ancient practices of ceremony with her contemporary processes & performance work to re-interpret, re-generate and extend her movement practice and its function in and from Oceania. She engages in the socio-political landscape of Australia with sensibilities in race, class & the female body politic; committed to bringing the voice of marginalised communities to the frangipani-less foreground.

We Latai (reminisce) Tau-moe-peau (battle-with-waves)

 Stand for Moana Nui interventions

 Stand for the baptism of the frontline

 Stand for saltwater sovereignty

 Stand for the embodied archive

 Stand for 1 degree of difference

 Stand for the monstrous femme body

 Stand inside shifting co-ordinates of the in-between

 Stand for Stitching (up) the Sea

Ellen van Neerven

Ellen is a Mununjali woman from the Scenic Rim in South-East Queensland. She is the author of Heat and Light (2014), winner of the David Unaipon Award, Dobbie Literary Award and Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelists Prize. She has a poetry collection, Comfort Food, forthcoming with UQP in June 2016. Ellen’s essay on First Nations perspectives to climate change ‘The Country Is Like The Body’ was published by Right Now in 2015. She will discuss some of her concerns and the work that is being done to strengthen our resistance to increasing pressure.




Queer Utopias: Art Practices and Worldmaking Panel

Worldmaking is about the radical aspirations of queer culture building – the concretisation of a queer counterpublic. This panel aims to push current debates about the future of queerness out of the purely theoretical realm, and demonstrate how queer futurity is currently being shaped by individual behaviour in praxis; its focus is on individual creative practices that demonstrate the potential for queer futurity.


Willurai Kirkbright is a Wiradjuri woman who lives in Sydney and has tribal roots in Northern NSW. A multi disciplinary artist for over 15 years, she believes in art as
activism, breaking conventions and community engagement. A contemporary artist, but often juxtaposing traditional art forms with modern ones, as well as clashing notions of outsider art, she is always pushing to expand the definition of “art”. Two solo exhibitions, over a dozen group shows and over fifty major creative projects before the
age of 30 – this is an artist who lives to create. Willurai has established and curated three separate art spaces. She’s an educator and facilitator, focused empowering and voicing the truth of disadvantaged minorities and Aboriginal peoples. Growing up half in the city, half in the bush and carrying conflicting bloodlines she explores the complexities of living between worlds. Using mediums such as installation, multi media and performance, she delves into the uncomfortable and essential corners of the human psyche. Highly conceptual and immersive, her work often explores issues of identity, gender, colonialism, displacement and interconnected histories.

Frances Barrett is an artist and curator whose independent and collaborative projects will be presented across 2016 by Biennale of Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, and Liquid Architecture. Her practice is an ongoing research enquiry into queer notions of futurity, temporality, and space.  

Justin Shoulder is an interdisciplinary artist & events producer who creates and disseminates contemporary mythologies. These stories are realised in the construction of full-body, highly sculptural avatars that Shoulder calls Fantastic Creatures. Each creature possesses its own gestural physicality and movement language, which is expressed in live performance, video and photographic works.

Alyson Campbell is a theatre director and scholar whose research, practice, teaching and activism share a focus on gender and queer theories and performance practices, affect in theatre, dramaturgy, and HIV and AIDS in performance. She is co-editor with Stephen Farrier of Queer Dramaturgies: International Perspectives on Where Performance Leads Queer (Palgrave, 2015). She collaborates regularly with long-time creative partner, playwright Lachlan Philpott, through their queer performance assemblage wreckedallprods. Alyson most recently directed Lachlan’s play The Trouble with Harry for Outburst Queer Arts Festival, Belfast (2013) and the Melbourne International Festival 2014 (winning Green Room awards for direction and best production). Alyson is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at the Victorian College of the Arts, The University of Melbourne, where she convenes the masters programmes in directing and dramaturgy.



“The Transgender Tipping Point” or a critical ‘trans’ politics? 

(Regrette Etcetera & Vek Lewis in conversation)

‘Trans’* people allegedly constitute “the new civil rights frontier” (Time Magazine), and we are witnessing an historically unprecedented, exponentially increasing and very trendy interest in all things ‘trans’ across queer/GLB, feminist & Left cultures, state and NGO institutions, academia, and mainstream culture and media. It is thus an important time to critically engage these dominant and largely conservative ‘trans’ representational and political cultures, and refocus on the demands and struggles they sideline or even ‘disappear’.

What happens when you put a USYD Academic and a shemale freak in dialogue? Part conceptual introduction, part loungeroom argument, this promises to be a playful, bitchy and wide-ranging tour of key ‘trans’ political issues & struggles, reflecting a shared focus on the political landscape beyond the English-speaking West/’Global North’ and beyond the liberal-individualist identity, representation, rights and reform that the historical outcome of GLB and Queer politics has shown to be a dead end.

This is an initial event of a much larger set of dedicated panels, film-nights and events to come in 2016.

*(Note: ‘Trans’ is an unhappy conflation of myriad cultures and demands undergoing varying degrees of disarticulation. These could include: Sistagirl, Brothaboy, travesti, and fa’afafine to name but a few…).


Housing, Welfare and the Return to Family

Speakers: Melinda, Rascal, Regrette

Sydney has some of the most inflated property prices in the world. As rents are ratcheted up to guarantee yields for investors, squats are stamped out as a threats to asset values and public housing budgets are frozen, living space in Sydney and other capital cities is becoming increasingly claustrophobic. The inflation of housing prices has occurred alongside a long-term trend towards the restriction of welfare benefits, especially for the young. Changes to youth allowance introduced under Howard have increased the age of legal independence, making young people legally dependent on parental support until the age of 22, while Newstart barely covers the cost of rent. Together these trends have conspired to push people back toward familial forms of economic support and dependence. Already it appears that young people are leaving home much later than they did in the recent past and many are forced to return home or borrow from parents when they lose a job or income support, or in order to go to uni or tafe. Inheritance is also playing a much greater role in defining class difference as private home ownership is almost exclusively confined to those who get deposits from their parents. Changes to single parents’ payments, new approaches to the surveillance of people who receive income support, the ascendance of workfare, and the current reorganisation of the ‘human services’ market exert pressure to reproduce familial life. None of this has stopped people experimenting with share-housing, squats, care networks and other extra-familial ways of living. But people who are unable or unwilling to rely on family support often experience extreme forms of precariousness, punitive welfare regimes or homelessness.

In this panel we will be discussing the impact of these trends on the material possibilities of a queer, extra-familial life. We start from the premise that these developments are not accidental or inevitable but are the predictable effect of neoliberal economic policies adopted since the 1980s. Beginning with the Keating-Hawke government of the 1980s, both labour and coalition governments have pursued a policy of pushing back increases in wages and welfare while promoting the inflation of property and asset prices. In the meantime the new welfare consensus dictates that family should be the primary source of economic security. As John Howard once said, the family is “the greatest social welfare system the world has ever devised.” This is consistent with the old poor law tradition of family responsibility for welfare. 

We explore the ways in which these developments have impacted on the imaginaries and possibilities of queer life and develop a critical perspective on the growing attachment to marriage and family in queer communities.




No Pride in Borders

Sydney’s No Pride in Detention crew will lead a discussion of a documentary film.





Autonomous Space Experiments – Co-operative Tales…

In a time of stratospheric rent prices, welfare cuts, and the widespread defunding of NGO’s community projects and spaces, many of us face bleak material prospects for living, organizing and resisting. This panel, featuring members of housing Co-op’s, rural communes, participant run venue, looks at a number of alternative ways of creating sustainable collective, communal, and community-based projects. Come and hear about the different political and philosophical motivations behind these projects, the practicalities of setting up, funding, and maintaining various types of projects, and their successes and failures.


Chantel Martin from All Nations Housing Co-op. (trans housing co-op., Sydney).

 TBC from Planet X Co-Op. (a queer housing co-op. in Chippendale and Marrickville)

 TBC from the Red Rattler Theatre (Marrickville)


Tools for Collective Healing & Community Transformation: Health, Care, Disability & Healing as Social Justice.


Bonny Briggs: No justice without healing 

Georgina Abrahams: solidarity & care networking (title TBC )

Regrette Etcetera: “Disability, Workfare and care-work”

Plus others TBC

The way in which this topic is presented is a deliberate queering of the usual conference format. The aim of this approach is to provoke & transform the binary of speaker/performer & audience. It’s also an attempt to engage with “access” & ableism within a political framework that responds to, but is not limited to, the intersection of disability & the various barriers or privileges people experience around participation in all shared spaces & formalised events like this.

Four interlinked offerings present a call to visibilise collective practices for caring, healing & transformation as inextricable from anti-oppression struggles:

1. altar of acknowledgement

2. future manifest-oh Yeah!

3. in & beyond the bed springs

4. discussion panel

Each of these interlinked aspects conveys a yearning to re/build & deepen connection & intersections. To go beyond the “self,” beyond resistance, to the systematic transformation of the colonial & neo-liberal power structures that run through every aspect of our lives.

Your energy is needed for these explorations of collective healing & transformation!

In addition to the discussion panel, your contributions to 3 interactive installations will operate to affirm the processes & ways in which we build connection; transmit & share knowledge; & rise to the challenges of collective organizing. To emphasise that the ways in which these discussions are approached is as important as the content being discussed.

Together we can visibilise & affirm the complexity of different lived experiences & histories surrounding us in the room. Challenge perceptions around being a passive recipient of information/education & internalized habits of living in a services-oriented society. Give weight & value to the lateral knowledge exchange that happens outside of academic institutions & government bodies.

Prepare to explore what queer caring & healing can mean; to see access as an intersectional, political framework linking all forms of oppression; what does it mean to decolonise healthcare & healing? Why there can be no healing justice without the dismantling of racism & the global war machine. And what this could like in practice.


Over the Rainbow? Over the Hill? Or Just Over It?

Age has always been an issue, particularly in LGBTI/Queer Community. You’re either too young, or getting too old. And historically there hasn’t been (as there is today) a large number of older out Seniors or Elders. This means we have few role models and older people can end up marginalised, invisible or shunned within our Community. At the same time, they continue to be subject to homophobia and isolation in mainstream society. In spite of it all WE HAVE SURVIVED! And to build on our success we all need to continue to work together intergenerationally and across our various sexual & gender identities. Together we are strong!

How does the experience of living through the heady steamy days of gay liberation and surviving the trauma of the early years of the onset of HIV/AIDS (and the ongoing reality of this pandemic) shape the realities of our elders? How do they access services in an increasingly user pays model of health/ disability care? How well can they express their activism/ flamboyance/ sexuality? What does all this mean for our concept of queer community? What role do younger queers play? This panel will explore some of these themes.

Panel Members

Uma Kali-Shakti also known as Aunty Uma is a South-Asian South Pacific woman who identifies as a working-class Blak Dyke Elder with disabilities. She’s been a Human Rights and Social Justice Activist for most of her life. Uma is also a writer/director/performer/producer/poet and Teacher.

Conor is a trans man from Western Sydney. He has been an active political organiser and member of various queer communities in Sydney over the last 30 years. Jackson is a trans man who is Conor’s friend, and for the last 2 years has also been his carer.

Aloysius was born in 1945. In the mid-80s he began a tentative exploration of BDSM which developed into active involvement in the BDSM community. He was a union activist most of his life and worked in education until retiring in 2010. In 2013 he began experimenting in ‘pensioner porn’ He is also an Opera tragic, historian, singer/performer and dandy.

Shane is a tenancy worker for Home at Last, the only housing organisation in Australia run by and for older people. He is interested in the practical and theoretical prospects for building intergenerational solidarity. In his spare time, Shane likes to wrestle.

NGO-isation and funding

Panel presentations and discussion. Speakers: Noelene Nabulivou, Paul Simpson, Jess Cadwallader, Elena Jeffreys

Noelene Nabulivou, Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality, Fiji: 

“Revolutions are never funded? reflections on collectives, NGOs, social organising and resistance movements”

Social organising in the Pacific, as elsewhere, is as much about constraints as possibilities. What is funded? What is not? How does one feminist queer group in Fiji make choices on self funded and externally funded work? Also room discussion on marketisation of governance, neoliberal capital, feminist movement work, and swimming in muddy income streams…

Paul Simpson: 

“Betwixt and in-between state and community: health, identity and the distinct qualities of a community-based organisation within the socio-political environment”

State responses to health-related epidemics can appear comprehensive in terms of a reported “partnership” approach between government, health experts and community-based organisations (CBOs). However, despite this partnership rhetoric, CBOs may eventually experience state-led conformity issues that impact on the kinds of practices and narratives they produce. This in turn, may go on to impact CBO members/engagers, ranging from service accessibility issues to the encouragement of consumer-driven healthism that ultimately threatens the socio-political awareness and influence of individual members and communities. This all points to a challenge CBOs face in terms of negotiating relations between the state and the people or “community” they are said to represent. This talk will look at the position health-orientated community-based organisations (CBOs) can occupy between the state and “community” and how this position may both facilitate and constrain its distinct qualities.

Jess Cadwallader:

“Neoliberalising community organising, one funding round at a time: the view from the disability rights sector”

In the world of Australian community organisations, the impacts of neoliberalism are both obvious – competitive tendering, endless belt-tightening and ever-evolving compliance mechanisms – and far more insidious. Positioning an organisation as of and for a marginalised group while remaining fundable becomes a delicate balancing act. But what all too often gets missed in the rush and ‘stretched capacity’ of current NGO work is the role that NGOs play in the push and pull between community, sector and government: do we enable or resist the ongoing marginalisation of entire groups of people? And how do we negotiate these complicated spaces while also writing endless policy, submissions and media releases?

Elena Jeffreys is presenting on “how” sex worker organisations maintain political autonomy while being funded and touching on political positioning, sex worker theory, creating ‘habitats,’ running services, doing advocacy and building community resilience.




Critical Race/Genealogy: Interrupting White Possessiveness Workshop (Title TBC)

More info soon…



Queer Animalities

“Has the queer ever been human?” (Luciano & Chen, 2015)

In this panel we bring animals to the forefront of the conversation. Clearly, this is no simple endeavour. This panel will provoke the question of what, if anything, does queer theory and queer identity have to do with animals? There will be three key themes to this panel. Firstly, it will address whether queer and animal movements can engage as political and activist allies. This will also take the form of looking at what can be ‘learnt’ between queer and animal movements, from a position of identifying troubling tendencies within both, such as racism and forms of human supremacy. A second theme will be homonormativity, examining ways that appeals for assimilation find themselves entangled with the oppression of animals. Lastly, it will question different constructs of the human and how the discourse of animality has been utilised in the service of creating queers as inferior. This panel will take the format of three short papers, followed by a response from each presenter to the other panellists. It will culminate in a discussion with the audience.

Javed de Costa is a philosophy graduate, musician and activist based in Melbourne, whose writing has appeared in The Guardian and Spook Magazine. Javed is also involved in the running of Undercurrent, a volunteer educational organisation engaging young people and communities on issues of gender, sexuality, relationships, and consent.
Dinesh Wadiwel is a lecturer in human rights and socio-legal studies and Director of the Master of Human Rights, with a background in social and political theory. Dinesh’s research interests include sovereignty and the nature of rights, violence, race and critical animal studies. Dinesh’s current book project explores the relationship between animals and capitalism, building on his monograph, The War against Animals (Leiden / Boston: Brill/Rodopi, 2015). Dinesh has also commenced a project entitled “The Right to Pleasure,” which explores the relationship between pleasure, rights and sovereignty.
Jessica Ison is a PhD Candidate at La Trobe University, researching the intersections of queer theory and animal studies. She is the representative for the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, Oceania and the Chair of the Theory Intersectional Research Collaborative. Jess is a rescuer for the Coalition Against Duck Shooting and she tutors in cross-disciplinary courses at La Trobe University. In her spare time she can be found ranting about capitalism, prison abolition and fermentation.

Paranoid Ecologies Panel

This panel aims to address the paranoid ecologies that structure criticism within the academy but also amongst queer (critical) community, and the consequences of paranoia (and subsequent generalised negative affect) in our interpersonal relationships. We want to ask: Is paranoia inevitable and is reparative political action possible (is it “queer”?) And, does the affective trauma of structural inequality and exclusion necessarily re-enact itself within marginalised communities forming their own hierarchies of power (“microcosmic mimesis”)? Panellists will discuss the impact of paranoid relationality for queer community, particularly as it relates to accountability practice (call out culture, content warnings, etc.), inclusivity, and status.


Cinnamon Templeton is an academic interested in reparative criticality, transfeminism and the performative possibilities of poetry and seduction. They have spoken and performed at West Space, Punk Café, M Pavilion and other venues, including their home. In 2015, they were published in un magazine 9.2 and completed a minor thesis on smuggling in the work of Jean Genet at the University of Melbourne. Their poetry collection, terribly controlled, was released in May.

Sam Sperring is a PhD candidate and tutor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney. Her thesis explores the linkages and disconnects between contemporary queer politics/ethics (as they manifest in communities and alongside US based queer theory), and current activist practice, with a focus on accountability. Rethinking popular notions of community (as unity-based), she posits queer community as an ongoing relation of diversity that is made manifest through disagreement and disunity, and questions the extent to which antagonism might hold fruitful rather than noxious consequences for queer activist politics. She has been published in Cardiff University’s journal Assuming Gender and Voiceworks, and holds a position on the Director’s Board at The Red Rattler Theatre.

Kate O’Halloran is a recent graduate of The University of Sydney. Her PhD is entitled “Theory, politics and community: Ethical dilemmas in Sydney and Melbourne queer activist collectives”. She currently lives in Melbourne where she works as a family violence trainer and freelance journalist. In her spare time she plays in a band and is learning Japanese (again).



Small Stink, Big Think: Wild Rumpus for Queers n Their Tinies

11am-1pm:  Back doors of Red Rattler under the gazebo tents

Come and create chaos with your infant, toddler or tween in an inclusive, community building space for queer parents, parents-to-be or wannabe parents. Let’s share resources, share skills, and connect with the wonderful queer parents and the ever-so-wonderful growing gaybies in our provocative community!



Note re. 2 deferred panels:


Nightlife & Venue Closures: Changing city landscapes in material context (Panel & Community forum)

Amidst lockout laws, venue closures, and stratospheric rent prices, culture-makers and partygoers are facing an increasingly harsh environment of, surveillance, security and prohibitive laws, bureaucracy, and costs. As we watch the city speed up and morph daily around us, being thoroughly reorganized in the interest of investors and developers, many of us are scared to think what will our city look like in 5 years, but feel like the changes are too complicated, too big, or too inevitable…

This forum has three parts:

Firstly, find out what’s really happening with the frontline insights of a range of queer culture-makers, organizers, and venues with decades-long experiences of Sydney scenes as they struggle to adapt.

Secondly, hear from activists and academics who work across these issues (and often party alongside us!), to help us move beyond reactive complaining and ignored protests, and to focus our struggles, by deepening and grounding our critical understanding of the material historical forces- the boring-sounding processes of planned gentrification, investment capital, urban planning, rent markets and state policy- driving these wide-ranging changes.

Finally, participate in an open community forum for discussion of these changes affecting us all. You are not alone.

Note: This forum has been deferred for health reasons, & will be a stand-alone event in 2016. Contact Regrette for info.


“Sex work & Urban Governance: Local & Global Perspectives”

Street-based sex workers- especially ‘Trans’ and indigenous workers- often sit at the borders of citizenship and, and are frequently the focus of media controversies and moral panic, being used to help push wide-ranging changes in the rights to public space, labour laws and economies.

Urban ‘Exclusion Zones’- shifting zones of spatial and temporal exclusion involving worker bans, surveillance, and profiling- are an allegedly benign policy and policing tactic increasingly deployed around the world to regulate street sex work. In reality, exclusion zones have been developed and enforced by insidious coalitions of local councils, gentrifying residents, police and media, as a form of cryptic re-criminalization that often facilitates grisly histories of citizen vigilante attacks, police harassment, imprisonment, disappearance and murder.

This panel, featuring current and former street-based sex workers and sex worker activists, mixes experiential and theoretical histories from the streets of Kings Cross, St. Kilda and cities globally, attempts to document and explain the continuing spread and effects of these exclusion tactics, and to situate these changes in the nature of urban spaces within the forces of contemporary capitalism and state policy, and thus to provide useful ways of resisting for activists and sex workers.

Note: This forum has been deferred for health reasons, & will be a stand-alone event in 2016. Contact Regrette for info.