ZBGC History

Some members of the ZBGC Working Group and TGV Committee
The need to establish a physical gender centre in Victoria has been informally discussed within the local transgender community for decades. In discussing our history, we acknowledge the work of those before us who have attempted to establish a gender centre for Victoria. In July 2007, a group of people met to discuss the possibility of establishing a Melbourne-based centre to support and improve the health and wellbeing of Victoria’s sex and gender diverse population. After further meetings, this working group held a community consultation in October 2007. Consisting of a public meeting and an online survey, the consultation collected valuable information to guide the group’s work.

Passing of Zoe Belle

On 15 January 2008, a valued member of the working group, Zoe Belle, passed away. In tribute to Zoe Belle and her activism, the proposed gender centre became known as the Zoe Belle Gender Centre (ZBGC), with the working group known as the Zoe Belle Gender Centre Working Group.

Our Youth Project Worker Zoe Birkinshaw (right)
In May 2008, {also} – a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community organisation – offered to provide some facilities for ZBGC’s operations. In 2010, ZBGC launched its ‘virtual’ gender centre to provide online support for the trans and gender diverse community. In 2011, Zoe Belle Gender Centre was one of seven recipients of a $4 million package from the Baillieu Government to address suicide and self-harm among LGBTI young people.Receiving non-recurrent funding of $146,000 over 4 years, Zoe Belle Gender Centre became what is believed to be the first Victorian transgender organization to receive government funding. In June 2012, CoHealth (formerly known as the Western Region Health Centre) offered to auspice ZBGC to support its Youth Suicide Prevention Project

Challenges and Moving Forward

Between 2012 and 2015, ZBGC worked hard to sustain its virtual centre and establish a physical gender centre. However, in early 2015, we realised that our goal of attaining a physical gender centre was proving to be incredibly difficult due to our low capacity. As ZBGC is entirely made up of volunteers apart from our Youth Project Worker, we are unable to at this time realise this vision.

Moving forward, we’ve decided to keep our focus on maintaining our online presence and expanding this support members of the trans and gender diverse community in rural Victoria. We have changed our named to the Zoe Belle Gender Collective to reflect this new direction.