Growing Queer Families Alliance


The Growing Queer Families Alliance was established in 2021 to ensure that CRE HiPP is inclusive of all women and people who experience pregnancy. Our goal is to co-design evidence-based information, supports and resources for, and with, the LGBTIQA+ community.

In particular, we want to celebrate the experiences of conception, pregnancy and birth for the LGBTIQA+ community, celebrate the important work of midwives and doctors in supporting this community, and deepen our understanding of reproductive and lifestyle health during these life phases to inform policy and practice.

For more information or to get involved please contact Professor Helen Skouteris at

Meet the Alliance


Jacob Thomas

Jacob Thomas (they/them) is one of Australia’s most prominent leaders in sexual orientation and gender identity. They are currently undertaking their PhD in the School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine at Monash University’s Health and Social Care Unit. Jacob is a key advisor on LGBTIQA+ community needs, while teaching and researching the needs of LGBTIQA+ youth. In their spare time Jacob is an advisor to the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, chief advisor to Pride Academy, clothing designer and drag artist.

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Jess Permezel

Jess (she/they) is a queer midwife and a childbirth & parenting educator. With a commitment to public health and health equity, Jess arrived at their midwifery career with a background in community development and organising, and a passion for making sustainable change from a grassroots level. Jess works clinically at a large metropolitan hospital where it is their goal to provide culturally competent, trauma informed care and to remove the barriers to holistic, individualised care for marginalised and vulnerable groups. They also deliver professional development to other midwives and perinatal care providers around providing LGBTIQA+ competent care, and teach LGBTIQA+ specific birth and early parenting classes.

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Amelia Arnold

Amelia’s professional expertise is in LGBTIQA+ sexual and reproductive health, fertility service delivery, mental health, research and social work practice, with skills in advocacy, community consultation, relationship building, research translation, training development and delivery, and workshop facilitation.

Amelia currently works coordinating the training and capacity building portfolio within the Sexual and Reproductive Health team at Women's Health in the North (WHIN). Prior to this, Amelia worked as a trainer and facilitator with Rainbow Health Australia and Thorne Harbour Health, delivering training to health and human service organisations to build their capacity to work with LGBTIQA+ communities.

Amelia has served on Switchboard’s Board of Directors since 2017, chairing Switchboard's Community Engagement Committee. Outside of paid work, Amelia co-hosts the bisexual community podcast Triple Bi Pass, and volunteers with Rainbow Families Victoria.

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Dr Ruth McNair AM

Dr Ruth McNair AM is an Honorary Associate Professor at the Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, and a general practitioner at an inner-Melbourne general practice. She has clinical and research interests in lesbian and bisexual women’s mental health, sexual health, LGBTIQA+ parenting, trans and gender diverse affirmation, and LGBTIQA+ health care and homelessness. She became a Member of the Order of Australia in 2019 for significant service to medicine and as an advocate for the LGBTIQA+ community.

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Dr Rhonda Brown

Rhonda Brown is a counsellor and family therapist working in private practice. She works with individuals, couples and families, as well as providing clinical supervision to a range of health and counselling professionals. Rhonda has extensive experience working with people of diverse gender and sexuality.

Rhonda’s research interests include physical and mental health outcomes of people of diverse gender and sexuality. She is interested in developing strategies and interventions that promote health and address physical and mental health disparities among marginalised population groups. Rhonda has a particular interest in the experience of creating families and parenting within diverse relationships.

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Professor Helen Skouteris

Helen Skouteris is the Monash Warwick Alliance Joint Professor of Health and Social Care Improvement and Implementation Science, Head of the Health and Social Care Unit, and Co-Lead of the Division of Evidence Synthesis, Qualitative and Implementation Methods, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Helen is also Director of the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence in Health in Preconception and Pregnancy (CRE HiPP 2020-2024).

Helen has a strong track record in longitudinal multi-factorial research, randomised controlled trials, implementation research and higher degree research supervision. Her research since 2010 has been predominantly focused on building agency/capacity in the consumer to promote health and wellbeing across preconception, pregnancy, preschool, and childhood, including adolescence, to reduce the prevalence of obesity. Her work has also been focused extensively on social service and educational sector improvement that translates to better health outcomes for children, young people, adults and families and is critical to transforming policy across these sectors.

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In 2023, CRE HiPP’s Growing Queer Families Alliance was instrumental in coordinating a special issue for the journal Midwifery. The special issue, titled Caring for LGBTIQ+ families, explored research, policy, and practice that contributes to LGBTIQA+ experiences of health and wellbeing across preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum care.

  • As part of the special issue, the Alliance celebrated the publication their systematic literature review, titled Experiences in the delivery of preconception and pregnancy care for LGBTIQA+ people: A systematic review and thematic synthesis of patient and healthcare provider perspectives. The findings of the review highlighted significant healthcare disparities experiences by LGBTIQA+ people, and informed several recommendations for investment in healthcare quality improvement. These recommendations align with the Alliances mission to ensure that LGBTIQA+ people receive equitable and affirming care throughout the journey towards parenthood.
  • In July 2023, Jess Permezel and Amelia Arnold presented the review alongside an interactive workshop on LGBTIQA+ Affirming Practice at the International Sexuality and Social Work Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • In August 2023, Dr Rhonda Brown presented the findings of the review at the Australian Lesbian Medical Association Conference in Melbourne.
  • In October 2023 Alliance members also presented the findings of the review at the LGBTIQ Women’s Health Conference in Melbourne.

In 2023 Alliance members also worked alongside local LGBTIQA+ families to create a video resource that celebrates the resilience of sexuality and gender diverse families, alongside their calls to action for mainstream community and service providers. This video was previewed in October 2023 to local LGBTIQA+ community members, and will be publicly launched in 2024.

This article in Health Times is relevant to the Growing Queer Families Alliance's mission: 
Are you providing LGBTQIA inclusive health care?