5 Questions with South Australia's New Director
11 Dec 2023
We are proud to introduce Rebecca Ellis, our new Director for South Australia. This is a newly created role that reflects our commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of our LGBTIQA+ communities in Adelaide.
Rebecca emigrated to Adelaide from the North of England with her wife Kylie and four children just under 5 years ago. After marrying in England, Rebecca and Kylie closely watched the marriage equality vote in Australia, hoping it would pass so they could bring their family down under. They’ve fallen in love with Adelaide and wouldn’t want to be in any other state.
I’ll be your loud voice and I won’t shy away.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and previous experience in the field of services and community support?
I’ve worked mostly in the disability sector and in the alcohol and other drug (AOD) support space. Working with neurodivergent people has also been a focus of mine. I’ve worked in these sectors with children, youth, teenagers, and adults, in schools and various community services. Many people that I worked with also identified as LGBTIQA+ and we see this overlap particularly with those that are neurodivergent.
Fundamentally I’ve always been passionate about fully inclusive societies and a human rights approach that says equal rights for everybody
What motivated you to join Thorne Harbour?
When I saw the job ad, I thought wow that’s so exciting - it brings together everything I’ve done in my career over the years and everything in my personal life. The more I read about the work Thorne Harbour does, the more passionate and excited I got about the role.
I have a good friend who was diagnosed with HIV many years ago who told me about the stigma he faced. Since then, I’ve worked to undo that stigma wherever it showed up in my own work, and I’m honored to join an organisation with a legacy of working for people living with HIV.
Why do you think it’s important that LGBTIQA+ people are seen in leadership roles?
To inspire other people and encourage them not to hide away. Seeing other LGBTIQA+ people in leadership roles was part of what encouraged my move to Australia.
What do you think is unique about the LGBTIQA+ community in Adelaide and what challenges do you think there are?
There are incredible queer spaces in Adelaide, venues where anything goes and there’s never any trouble. However, I think we need more family friendly LGBTIQA+ events and activities.
Alcohol and other drug services are limited in Adelaide for the mainstream community, let alone for LGBTIQA+ people. Some service organisations still say, “don’t apply for our groups if you’re LGBTIQA+”, and this must change. We need more LGBTIQA+ specific services, including for queer youth.
What message would you like to convey to the Thorne Harbour community and those who benefit from its services as you step into your new role?
I’m here to serve you and I’m keen to understand and learn what the community wants and needs in South Australia. This will always drive my work.
I’m not frightened to speak up and when times are hard, I’ll stand up and advocate. I’ll be your loud voice and I won’t shy away.