Podcast - Episode 10: Supporting people in crisis, mental health and suicide support

In this episode, we have a conversation with Samara Shehata, Acting Manager for LGBTQ+ Health Equity at ACON. We delve into the topics of intersectionality, mental health, and health equity within the LGBTQ+ community and explore the challenges of community-led initiatives and the necessity for customised mental health assistance.

Join us for an enlightening dialogue on embracing diversity and fostering inclusivity.

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Complete transcripts below: 

Brad Webb: Welcome to the latest episode of "Embrace Your Otherness," Castle's inaugural podcast series where we create an environment to talk to people with disability, activists, community leaders, and start to unpack questions of diversity and inclusion, and generally promote the idea of what it is to embrace your otherness. I am Brad Webb. I'm the CEO of Castle and also the host of this series. Today we are going to be tackling the topics of intersectionality and mental health, and I would just like to say that today's episode may include discussion around suicide and mental health.

If you feel like you need to reach out for help, you can contact Lifeline Helpline on 131114.

You can also speak with QLife, a helpline for the LGBTQ+ community from 3:00 PM to midnight every day on 1-800-184-527.

Our guest today is Samara Shehata, Acting Manager for LGBTQ+ Health Equity at ACON. Samara is a queer woman of colour who is passionate about community led and designed projects with tangible outcomes to improve the health and wellbeing for all people in the LGBTQ+ community across New South Wales. Welcome Samara, and thanks for joining us.

Samara Shehata: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Brad Webb: Look, let's start at the very basics for everybody. First of all, what is ACON, and what work does it do in the community?

Samara Shehata: ACON is an LGBTQ+ health organisation. It started in 1985 with the HIV epidemic. So we supported through grassroots activists and collective organising how to care and support, and also, I guess, raise the awareness of this virus and how it was affecting gay, bisexual and queer men in the '80s, particularly that early period. So it has an incredible history of literally, you know, keeping a community alive. You know, activists roots of we need support, we need treatment, we need care. And it continues to this day with that same, I would say, vitality, and passion and want to really improve our community's health and wellbeing in all aspects. So we've grown from, you know, the early days would've been, you know, probably 20 to 30 people, particularly men and women organising, and now we're about 200, a bit over 200 staff. And there's also some national programs, but predominantly we are New South Wales based.

Brad Webb: So we're almost 40 years since the establishment of ACON. 40 years ago, the world was a very different place in New South Wales.

Samara Shehata: Absolutely.

Brad Webb: A very different context. So tell me a bit about how ACON, how different it is as an organisation today from when it first started, particularly around its community and the outreach and the work that it does. What's different about it to 40 years ago?

Samara Shehata: I guess it's, well, particularly thinking of where our communities would live and gather and it's particularly in eastern suburbs and in a city Sydney. You know, if you kind of came out in as 18, you'd be getting on a bus no matter where you live or get in your car and you drive to Sydney and move to Sydney. Is very, like, few community members in regional rural, or even Western Sydney that had a sense of community and belonging. Where now it's kind of the opposite, to be honest. I think community are everywhere. We gather and create incredible organisations or incredible networks and community groups all through the country in the bush. And so the organisation now does a lot of outreach and we now are moving, since the marriage equality debate as well, and the low rates of yes votes in western Sydney.

We're really also targeting our work, our community outreach to culturally and linguistically diverse and refugees asylum seekers and migrants communities out there. And also regional, rural. We have office now in Lismore and Newcastle, and we have teams that, even though based in Sydney, they do a lot of outreach out to even Broken Hill and all through the southern region. So I guess that's probably been a major marker of change is where we live, where community, you know, we don't need to move to the city anymore. And that's been a huge shift, and I guess, and also a major shift. And not only has our rights changed since 1985, there's been some incredible legislation changes, particularly in around the year 2000s as well, where we got some, like, we could adopt and we could, you know, we could marry earlier on, and then that changed.

But, you know, just having a partnership, a legal partnership. And so I guess with rights that have changed, so have our ability to be out and proud no matter where we live and work.

Brad Webb: And look, I'm sure we'll come to this later in the discussion, but some things haven't changed and that is health outcomes and equity when it comes to health. So now you sit in a position at ACON in leadership, in Health Equity. What was your journey to be sitting here today in that role?

Samara Shehata: Yeah, I have a pretty colourful journey. I started off as a queer performance artist in kind of, you know, the subcultural communities in Sydney. And then I became a sex worker as well in my early 20s. And then I became interested in understanding human rights and particular around sex worker human rights and how sex workers globally, you know, create like a union and collective voice and power to hawk and raise awareness of violence and discrimination. And so in my early 20s, I moved to Cambodia and started working with a local grassroots union called Women's Network for Unity, WNU for short, we used to say. And so that was my early training and education, really understanding what it looks like for sex workers in Southeast Asia that were street-based sex workers, you know, what their lives were like every day, what the type of stigma, discrimination and violence they experienced. And it, you know, obviously broke my heart in every level. But it taught me so much.


It taught me what resilience and strength really looks like, and it taught me what community care and coming together and having mutual understandings and why it's so important. And to tell your story no matter. If you feel shame, It's more important to actually be truthful and honest and share, because others then can also come out, and it creates, you know, a larger collective voice for change. And so that changed me in my early 20s. And then I started in that kind of international development realm, but I really hated it. And I hated it because for me, all of the programs and how the funding was funnelled through, you know, the colonial, I would call it, I like how First Nations people call it, the Colonial project, because it's everywhere, and how, you know, certain, like massive, you know, powerful countries like the US would operate through their agendas, through funding. And so I kind of realized quite quickly that I wasn't into that kind of, you know, development framework-

Brad Webb: Or particularly-

Samara Shehata: Or practice. When you've been spending time in marginalized groups creating collectives and communities.

You know, yeah, so he's a hundred thousand dollars, but you've got to do A, B, C, D, E. And so I went back to become an artist. I came back to Australia, and then I became an art therapist 'cause I love understanding more about mental health and how the tools and, you know, practices to support transformation and understanding trauma and how that impacts people's lives. And then, but I'm an activist and an advocate at heart and so I found it really difficult to work on a one-on-one basis. And then I saw a position at ACON seven and a half years ago. And that kind of, I guess I really was able to then put all my skills together and especially as a queer woman and a queer woman of colour.

There's not many queer women of colour in leadership in this country in all different sectors. But particularly in the LGBTQ+ health sector, there's not many of us that have kind of stayed with this line of work, mainly because it's quite like we talked about, male-dominated due to that early HIV, those early HIV years. So yeah, it's an interesting position to be in at the moment. So at the moment my role covers transhealth equity, suicide prevention, and I also support the Needle and Syringe Program service in Sydney. So that also is an incredible service that's been running for, you know, 40 years as well, so.

Brad Webb: And just to frame the discussion, we're about to have, health equity, can you explain that concept? What is health equity and why is that important?

Samara Shehata: I like to always talk about it visually, 'cause a lot of people have seen this graphic where you're looking at the football stadium

Brad Webb: And there's three boxes.

Samara Shehata: There's three boxes, and everyone's a different height or a different body. And health equity is not about giving the same box to everyone, it's actually making sure that the box suits that individual so they can see the same game as everyone else. So obviously it would have a different height or a different shape to make sure that people have that access. And so I frame it like that, that it's almost like a practice to really, I think what is not talked about is the values of time and how you need time in order to understand the needs of people across different identities, of different lived experiences. And therefore equity involves not one solution if there's a problem that's been identified, it's not one solution. It has to involve so many different solutions that I believe should be then peer led. I'm a big supporter of then peer or community led responses to an issue or a problem. So that's where I think equity kind of fits in in this landscape.

Brad Webb:  And so obviously equity has a very clear and direct relationship with one of the things we're here to talk about today, which is intersectionality. And the definition, and I've got here the term that describes how different aspects of a person's identity, such as their race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, can expose them to overlapping and interconnected forms of discrimination or disadvantage. And it was a term originally coined by Kimberly Crenshaw, the American lawyer, scholar and activist, who wanted to remind people that oppression is linked and not separate. And in the context of Castle, for example, according to the Private Lives 3 survey, the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in Australia, and that's a national survey of the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people in Australia that was last conducted in 2020, almost 4 in 10 of the participants there, it was 38.5%, reported experiences of having a disability, a long-term health condition.

1 in 10 reported a profound or severe disability. And then you moved to 20% were moderate disability, 6.4 mild disability. And it was notable in that study that there is a higher proportion of people reporting a disability in that study than there are in the Australian population. So for the people that Castle work with, there is an intersection often with sexuality, which compounds that sense of disadvantage or oppression that can occur. So when we talk about the technical terms and some of the data and the stats, when you hear the term intersectionality, what does that mean for you in the context of your role in supporting health equity?

Samara Shehata: It actually means having difficult conversations to disrupt power and to disrupt status quo. When we frame, and I think this is where we need to move into, it's like the term disability, not this language. You know, there's also other ways to frame, isn't it? Like when we talk on disability, it's like there's other abilities as well. It's that word dis. Or when we talk about, you know, racism or, yeah, I think we're always then centering who we are centering and who's on the outskirts. And often people within intersection identities, what they're saying is they feel othered, they feel different to what the centre is. So we need to then, actually the centre should change, because I forgot the question you asked, but I guess in my line of work, I'll give an example of how I kind of, the way I work with equity with my teams because everyone in the teams that work in the field of trans health equity or suicide prevention, we all come from different lived experiences. It could be a trans woman that comes from, you know, an white Australian background, middle class, and doesn't have an experience of disability. And so therefore, if that woman is creating specific content, then it's up to me to interrogate who is she speaking to. Is she speaking to white trans people? Or she's speaking to, you know, trans people? Is it accessible for all people? Or is it highlighting just a subcultural group?

And so a part of my work is then to question that, and then from there we can identify how we can shape language or address, you know, address maybe like, sorry, I'm trying to articulate this, address who we're missing out on or who's invisible and actually make different, yeah, different, and diversity visible. And it can even be in one post and can literally be down to how, you know, framing, you know, one of two sentences in a social media post about a recent murder of a trans woman, and how we need to acknowledge, yes we are, everyone is affected by this one murder, but how many murders are happening every day that we don't know about that aren't in the media? It's particularly black trans people, particularly our First Nations trans communities across the world.

We don't hear that news, but we hear the news from the UK when a 16-year-old trans woman is murdered. No trans person should ever be murdered. But when we write about this, we do need to acknowledge the pain and suffering and loss and grief for all of our communities here and globally. And so I guess that's where equity comes into it because when we read content or when we listen to different voices that don't get heard or aren't visible, I think when it's accessible on all of a sudden and we can reflect and we can reflect on what we don't know, and-

Brad Webb: So if I hear you correctly, the health equity work you do in an intersectionality context is the acknowledgement that just because you think you're talking to a particular group of people, you may not have captured that entire group of people because the experience of a trans woman, white, middle class Australia is gonna be different from that of a trans woman with a disability, from a low socioeconomic background, or a gay man is gonna have a very different experience depending upon their educational context, or their-

Samara Shehata: Exactly.

Brad Webb: And so that tendency as humans for us to try and to make sense of people by categorising them in a box, can inadvertently exclude people from a communication.

Samara Shehata: It does, and it absolutely does. Yeah, and so when we do health promotion, I mean, ACON is a health promotion organisation, and so it's really important that we either don't speak generally and we do acknowledge who we're speaking to and we target that language and frame it so it's accessible to certain communities or subcultural groups or language groups. So we have to be clear. But it is hard, we can't do that all the time either. It's not practical. So there is ways that I guess when we're creating services or programs or, you know, or content, we have to then think, okay, who are we consulting? Who are we partnering with? Who are we employing? You know, who's even in ACON that we might be able to bring in in the table in the development stage? You know, like you kind of, I guess those processes and practices at work are really, really important because it holds us accountable. Yeah.

Brad Webb: Yeah. You can see why people avoid it, can't you though? Because you've referenced that idea of complexity and being able to, I always imagine it's like looking through a prism with all the different facets. You've got a core message that you want to get to a community.

Samara Shehata: Core, yeah, exactly.

Brad Webb: But what you say to one person can be heard in, that one message can be heard in a million different ways. So it's easy to get caught in this complexity of, oh, we can't possibly communicate to everyone in every form. So it's why the conversation gets avoided.

Samara Shehata: Yes. Yes.

Brad Webb: And that idea of intersectionality becomes challenging for people to get their head around. I mean, even hearing your description of that, it clearly is a complex place to navigate. And you've got tight timeframes, often very tight budgets. You're trying to get a message out. So it's... And so I imagine a lot of this comes from practice trial and error, getting it right sometimes making some mistakes, learning from those mistakes. And I think the great experiment we've had was COVID-19 with communicating complex health messages and realizing, you know, I used to think about particularly the Western Sydney community and the sheer diversity around language groups of how challenging that was to get clear messages out that kept people safe in the well.

Samara Shehata: In language and in cultural context.

In cultural context, exactly. Different media. Some people would listen to radio versus TV. Yeah, it was an incredible experience, I think, watching it. I agree with you. I enjoyed seeing how that was handled and, you know, what were the delays or, yeah, and how did, you know? Yeah, things like in Melbourne, when we talk about intersectionality and we talk about, I don't know if you remember, but yeah, there was kind of key moment when they locked down-

Brad Webb: The towers.

Samara Shehata: The towers.

Samara Shehata: And that really taught, I think health, you know, the local health system and community. Community responded to that first before the government did. And, so again, this leads us back to remembering. I always feel like, as, you know, if you are a community member or you're working for an organisation and you're invested in inclusion and diversity in promoting that, in creating, you know, safety for individuals, I think we have to always trust that community actually know and lead, and so therefore, it's almost like, it's almost like that ability to observe and, you know, watch and listen. And those fundamental skills is actually what really practicing inclusion is about. Not not having an opinion, just hold back and observe and listen, and then respond.

Brad Webb: I'm reflecting on this from the context of people that are listening to this, watching this podcast grappling with the concept. And recently Newcastle, City of Newcastle hosted the musical, "Come From Away," which was the-

Samara Shehata: I heard about that.

Brad Webb: The story of the town that became the epicentre for all the planes landing on September 11 when they were grounded. I don't know how intentional that was when the writers put that together, but that town grappled with intersectionality from the moment there were 9,000 people in town, 7,000 people landed from all over the world, different ethnic groups, different languages, different religious affiliations, and how that town had to... The show is about them adapting, and responding and building relationship, which was fundamentally about listening. And when you don't have common language on top of that, how do you listen, and grappling with that. So, you know, there's plenty of pop culture references that can talk to intersectionality. And I wanna dive into a very specific component of that now and talk about mental health, which is a passion point for yours and the LGBTQ+ community and that intersectionality that exists there. And how it is that that informs your work. What are you doing in that space and why is that particular intersectionality important for us to unpack and tackle?

Samara Shehata: It's so important because I think, well, I like to actually talk about mental health a lot more broader. So I started my work a year and a half ago now leading the suicide prevention health promotion work at ACON. So there's also services around counselling as well. But my work particularly is creating resources for community. So we started off creating a digital hub called here.org.au. And so the reason why I'm taking it to suicide prevention quite quickly is that I think the lens of mental health is quite narrow When we think even just the word mental, we know that it's psychosocial, it's a part of our bodies, you know, when we talk about trauma, we talk about stigma and discrimination, and that affects our mental health. We talk about in suicide prevention now we're talking about situational distress rather than mental health. Not everyone that has a mental health illness or a diagnosis experiences suicidality. So we also frame it now in terms of how someone can experience a significant event or loss in their lives that changes their, yeah, why they wanna live in this world.

And so I think, sorry, to like add a lot of complexity into this, but I think when I'd like to discuss mental health in a bigger picture now. I feel like it needs to, because we know that in order for community that experience a lot of suffering and distress with either their mental health or around suicidality, we know that if for anyone to create transformational change in their life and to feel differently in themselves in their lives, it's like we know that it involves so many different supports, and care, and systems, and therapies and, you know, it's holistic. And so, yeah, I like to kind of talk about mental health in ways where it like allows people to understand that there's no one, it's not their fault that they have a mental health diagnosis.

And also, you know, to take that blame away, but also to encourage folk to really access all different types of healing or therapies or, you know, connections to services. Like, and some people were even getting a job, like in Castle, what you would experience, can be completely life changing. And so I think and also address LGBTQ people and communities, why we experience higher rates of mental health distress. Again goes back to that word intersectionality, doesn't it, really? And how what we call homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, basically it's saying that you've been told in your life that you are wrong, that you need to change, and that you need what we call as heteronormativity.

And heteronormativity has, you know, is in some people's view is, you know, that's right and everything's wrong. So you have to be heterosexual, you have to be cisgender, and often it's usually white as well, and it kind of comes in that package. And so a lot of community members experience so much stigma and discrimination and violence and from a really young age because they're not accepted, they don't have gender affirmed when, you know, they know who they are and they express that, or their sexuality. And so I think when we talk about mental health distress, we have to talk about it in ways where we understand these societal pressures, these societal, you know, like the how it wants to conform people, you know, need to conform into these pressures and then these ideals.

And, I mean, I've never, my whole life, I've been queer since I was 16 and so I rejected it pretty quickly. And of course I've experienced stigma and discrimination in my life. I'm also Egyptian and so my Egyptian family don't know my sexuality, because, you know, is my father's wish not to, because he doesn't wanna feel isolated. And so there's all these, yeah-

Brad Webb: Another layer-

Samara Shehata: Layers and layers.

Brad Webb: Another intersection, yeah.

Samara Shehata: And I just, yeah. And that's another thing that also a lot of culturally linguistically diverse or people from migrant backgrounds, you know, we can often experience even further isolation of our cultures if we do choose to come out. So, sorry, I'm guess I'm going into the web, isn't it? My brain go scattered so you need to help me to come back in that-

Brad Webb: That's right, that's the truth of the work that you do.

Samara Shehata: Yeah, that's, when I think about mental health, that's where I go. I go into all those avenues of going, you know? And each individual has their own story. And some people might be queer and out and proud of, and not really experienced any discrimination stigma and have a mental health, you know, illness or diagnosis that they're living with.

Brad Webb: And related to something completely different in their lives. So it's, yeah, it's interesting. But we do have to talk about heteronormativity. We do have to talk about racism and the impacts. We do have to talk about situational distress, and, you know?

These so-called dominant cultures.

Samara Shehata: These dominant cultures, yeah.

Brad Webb: Yeah, I was listening to the author and academic, George Hadad, speak recently about race and the impact that that has on being queer and the need for these conversations. And I guess at the core of your work, it's about creating that space for there to be different views bought into the health promotion conversation, into the suicide prevention conversation. So that when it's playing back out to the community at large, people can hang their hat on the bit that they need to hear because somebody has finally heard their complex or interest in voice has heard that and played that back. And when we were speaking earlier, before we started recording, you were talking about the shift in, you know, the nature and fabric of ACON as an organisation to reflect that diversity-

Samara Shehata: Where community is

Brad Webb: And communities, and-

Samara Shehata: Yeah.

Brad Webb: Be that rural and regional, be that western Sydney, be that different genders, different ethnicities. It's, yeah, a fascinating space in which you work.

Samara Shehata: It is fascinating. I feel like I am in love with my job, and I love working at ACON and I love the people I work with that teach me a lot. And, you know, and I have a reflective practice, I think, and that's the foundation of what I bring, yeah, to this role and to my work at large. But I think where were we going? You mentioned something that was really great about, yeah, how, I guess, again, going back to visibility and how people can resonate with something or a story or a resource. And then that might, you hope gives them guidance to either access a service or to use a resource that hopefully is useful in their life. And I guess that's really the heart of it, isn't it? Is you hope that there is a connection to the work and to what you are delivering to community, and, yeah.

Brad Webb: Yeah, so I wanna draw this back then a little bit to, I mean, some people will be listening to this and going, "Oh, how fascinating?" Other people are going, "What the hell are they going on about?"

Samara Shehata: That's so good.

Brad Webb: You're holding it.

Samara Shehata: I can't get my head around it.

Brad Webb: So if we were to step back from that and say, look, let's accept that there are many different ways to be as an individual and as a human being and you are encountering an individual and you don't know all of the ways that they may be, all of the intersections that may be in their world, but you are about to have a conversation or encounter a need to support somebody with their mental health. For the layperson who doesn't have time to quickly process and think about all those intersectionalities, what advice would you give them about how to approach that conversation or how to approach that support if they're in their workplace or in their family and they're just looking at somebody who needs some support? And you've got all of this understanding and-

Samara Shehata: All these resources in my head.

Brad Webb: Resource in intersectionality. Where do you start?

Samara Shehata: I think it's, you know, asking the basic questions first as you know their name. Like gender, even, understanding their gender experience, their sexuality, you know, naming those few things earlier on for me would then I can connect the dots. I also like to know if they are feeling isolated or lonely. And then you can also know if, you know, that's can be an important part or, or yeah, and/or cultural background. Is very much important to know their cultural background. And I guess from understanding all of those, which we would call in the health word, demographics.

It's like, if anyone's experienced accessing a service, you usually have to fill out an intake assessment form, which is basically those questions 'cause they're important questions. And then it is also just how are they feeling in the now, in the present. It's really important to know if they're in crisis or because that would be a different referral to a crisis support or if they're just experiencing, you know, anxiety, depression. 

Yeah, any kind of, in the mental health realm. So it'd be naming the feelings as well, and then that would guide me to then I guess thinking about, yeah, I mean, there's so many wonderful services in terms of referring, so having those conversations, are you okay? How are you feeling? Understanding, understanding from that perspective. And then it's often, I mean, this is interesting that I'm thinking about this idea of helping, right? So a lot of people, and you'd find this in the disability sector as the word help, a lot of people don't necessarily are asking to be helped, but they want to be supported and cared for.

And I think there's a difference. Because sometimes you can't change depression, or anxiety or, you know, like you're not there to like transform that for that person. You're there to just listen. Mental health often is when someone's experiencing distress, they just want to be heard and to have this empathic experience. So I think, I don't know if I'm answering your question right, but yeah, I do think it's just having conversations and feeling comfortable with knowing how someone is, what state they're in, you know?

Brad Webb: Correct me if I'm wrong, by all means, but it sounds to me like, just listen, just do what you would do to support somebody who needs support in the moment. Refer them as you require.

Samara Shehata: Yeah.

Brad Webb: You can't possibly, in that situation, if you're not skilled, they'll understand how to deal with all of that complex intersectionality. The most important thing is that then the health providers and those around them and the individual themselves can access the resources that they need.

Samara Shehata: They might want, or you know, sometimes it takes, if you talk to most community members, they've seen 5 psychologists or they've been to 10 services. And it takes time also to find that right fit, you know, as well. So it's like not giving up and then at the same time with a friend, so say if you're a support person, it's also just keep having the conversations, keep holding hope for accessing different services, trying new professionals, getting connected to community, making new friends. You know, I believe, particularly the suicide prevention, again, there's never one answer to anyone's issues. It's so complex.

Often it's employment barriers, and financial stress and feelings of isolation and loneliness or, you know, men, cis men actually have a high rate of gay or queer, you know, cis men have a high rate of suicide as well as trans communities and gender diverse communities. And, you know, First Nations, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander, you know, it's really interesting when you look at suicide statistics because it's not nice and neat in boxes because it tells us humans are wonderfully complex.

And majority of us, we just need a space to be heard and listened to, and to be understood on some level. And I think when we talk about intersectionality, what really the work that has to be done is this, is to be understood. And so rather than coming from an I perspective, I always think about we. And so it's that movement towards understanding what collective differences and diversity is, but then not needing to understand everything, but having at least some understanding of how to connect, ask the right questions and so that person feels supported, you know, or heard or seen.

Brad Webb: I think if nothing else that these podcasts do is it encourages people to think outside the squares that they live in. And to contemplate that there are different ways of experiencing the world. And so, just to close out the work that you do, I imagine you have a vast quantity of resources and supports. Where would you direct people to? Is there a website or a resource pool that people can go to if they're genuinely interested in learning more, either for themselves, wanting to seek greater information and clarity for themselves, or just generally wanting to learn more about intersectionality and LGBTQ health issues and the like. Where would you send them?

Samara Shehata: Well, transhub.org.au is incredible for really understanding transgender verse community. It's important for trans gender diverse community members themselves to access that and allies and service providers. It has so much information and knowledge and referrals and services. And then for suicide prevention here.org.au is ACONS's latest digital hub. And that's for all LGBTQ+ communities. And it has a wonderful list of services and also resources like how to talk about suicide safely, you know, how to support a community member with a safety plan. So identifying what might keep them safe if they are feeling suicidal. So there's all these useful resources on that site.

There's also for LGBTQ+ people that are culturally linguistic diverse or refugees, asylum seekers, we have an incredible website called Rainbow Cultures. I'm sorry, I don't know the exact details. I think it's rainbowcultures.org.au. And that has more community group networks resources. So it's kind of an incredible site that links community members to then other community groups and members, because we know that belonging is so important to health and wellbeing. They're probably the three. And obviously acon.org.au is really then has everything for services and our programs across the whole organisation, particularly regional and rural. We have incredible outreach services as well. So acon.org.au then is also an important one.

Brad Webb: Fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the story of the work you do, which is critically important and very different to the world that I experience every day. And I really appreciate being able to learn from you. And I did pick up quite a few things out of that conversation. I always finish these podcasts with a question to my guest, which is about embracing your otherness. What does embrace your otherness mean to you?

Samara Shehata: It centres my otherness rather than, yeah, I reframe it. So it's not my otherness that's outside, it's my centre. So I am, I know that sounds a bit meta, but I feel that what I was told was different and wrong my whole life is now who I completely am, and if that makes sense. So I embrace, and I am proud and at complete peace with all of my otherness, which is a lot of who I am. So, yeah, I guess that's how to me, my relationship to being othered is actually just who I am.

Brad Webb: That's a tremendous spot on which to end today's conversation. Samara, thank you again so much for coming in and being so willing to share your story. It's been an absolute pleasure.

Samara Shehata: Oh no, it's been a pleasure too. Thank you for having me.