Lara Gerrand

Lara Gerrand - 2016 Nominee
Position: Women Deliver Young Leader/ Country Coordinator for International Youth Alliance for Family Planning
Organization: Women Deliver and IYAFP
An experienced youth advocate for sexual & reproductive health & rights for young people, Lara has volunteered with a youth led sexual health org and sexual health advocacy for those in foster care. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

My contributions and achievements in family planning involve advocating for LGBTIQ young people to have access to reproductive health education and services, particularly in relation to disadvantaged young people. I was involved in the Youth Pavilion at the AIDS Conference in Melbourne to ensure that the conference was engaging to young people. I am also involved in sexual health peer education as the the Local Leader for Melbourne, coordinating and recruiting volunteers and this was particularly vital over the AIDS Conference. I am also involved in the sexual health policy working group in Victoria that is creating a sexual health policy for young people involved in the out of home care sector. I am the current Country Coordinator - Australia for IYAFP.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My passion for family planning was sparked in high school after I felt that not only was our reproductive health education was too late and also the lack of contraception availability and support that was given to me and my peers. This inspired me to fight for better access and support and make it a healthy and normal conversation to have, but at a younger age so that knowledge and support is already set up.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

I created a resource for workers working with LGBTIQ young people in out of home care. This is a resource that is the first of its kind in Australia and this meant that there were lots of challenges and obstacles when being a pioneer. Ensuring that ethics are done when working with vulnerable young people is essential and making sure that the government and other stakeholders are not holding you back and ensuring that you are clear with your direction and why this is so important.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

I think that my country's biggest challenge in family planing would be access and support for newly arrived and refugee women in Australia. These women often lack the knowledge, finances and support. I think that it can be addressed by engaging with women from this community to address what they see as their needs in family planning and utilising a peer support project that trains refugee women to support other women to make family planning decisions.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

I want to ensure that family planning is integrated into education and include healthy and respectful relationships so that it becomes a culture change. I want to engage with the LGBTIQ community to look at ways forward for both the education and health sectors to be more inclusive, as this is a community that is often neglected. I want to be active in communities and ensure that policies that are being made, are being includive of the communities that they are for.

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