Creative flair: Tobin Saunders takes up the role of community health promotion officer for ACON on the Northern Rivers.
Creative flair: Tobin Saunders takes up the role of community health promotion officer for ACON on the Northern Rivers. Jacklyn Wagner

Saunders takes on new role at ACON

ACON Northern Rivers’ new community health promotion officer Tobin Saunders is well equipped to fulfil his new role.

He sees health education as a natural progression for him and his infamous alter ego,Vanessa Wagner.

“It’s really no great leap from showgirl to educator,” he quipped from his new office on Friday.

“Vanessa and I have always worked hard to improve sexual health and the acceptance of sexual diversity across all media platforms.”

Vanessa Wagner exploded on to the public domain at the height of the AIDS panic in the late 1980s on national youth radio station Triple J.

For years she counselled the mainstream community, breaking down misinformed myths, barriers and prejudices with her whip-sharp wit and sequined glamour, leading to Mr Saunders joining the likes of former High Court justice Michael Kirby and Greens Leader Senator Bob Brown as one of Australia’s 25 most influential gay and lesbian people last year.

“I was thrust into a powerful position on Triple J where I could access every nook and cranny in the country,” he said.

“It was a lot of fun giving etiquette advice to nanas and children and all in between.”

Mr Saunders says he has a strong sense of the diversity and complexities of Northern Rivers communities having lived here now for eight years.

His new role with the national community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation on the Northern Rivers will see him primarily working with gay men on everything from sexually transmitted infections to relationship issues.

Taking a holistic view of sexual health Mr Saunders hopes to bring his creative flair to ACON’s outreach program, designing and delivering campaigns.

“I’m excited to be able continue the great work ACON does with the GLBT community and the wider community on the Northern Rivers,” he said.

“We want to build strong bonds in the community working with schools, police, councils and business to make this community even more inclusive.”



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