Liana’s story: a safe and supportive space with the Rainbow Crew

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Published Jun 06 2023

A carer for almost two decades, Liana has found meaningful connection with her own identity and other queer carers through a support group especially for LGBTIQA+ carers: RainbowCrew.

Liana Ferndale officially made the leap from mother to carer when one of her four children, Rama, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of seven. Now a young man of 20, he lives at home with Liana, along with Liana’s youngest child, who is 16 and her 82-year-old mother, who Liana also cares for.

Of course, the caring started well before diagnosis, as Liana recognised Rama’s differences and began advocating for recognition and support. Since diagnosis, being his carer has involved coordinating his NDIS support, finding his support workers and taking him to see specialists to help him navigate his diagnosis. Her mother’s care involves supporting her through mental health challenges and taking her to specialists who assist her with the various challenges of old age.

Liana has learned to have support for herself in place, so that she can continue caring for others. For Liana, that support comes in lots of different forms.

“I get regular massages and go to float sessions. I'm a member of Co-Dependents Anonymous. I also see a psychologist and I have a lot of close friends and partner who are loving and supportive. I'm very lucky in that way,” says Liana.

Liana is also an active member of Rainbow Crew. An initiative of Carer Gateway in Victoria, Rainbow Crew is a support group for carers who identify as LGBTIQA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual and other sexually or gender diverse). For Liana, this means identifying as bisexual.

Rainbow Crew hosts monthly online meetings and also organises in-person meet-ups and outings. The meetings are social, inclusive and supportive, with space for everyone to share. They’re also sometimes activity focused, with craft sessions and materials supplied ahead of time by facilitators. Outings have included lunches and theatre visits.

“It’s great to be in a group with people who are both carers and queer, because we can all be really upfront and honest about how our lives are going, both in terms of our caring role and also just in terms of dealing with being queer in a world where not everyone is favourable towards queerness,” says Liana.

“The facilitators of the Rainbow Crew create a beautiful safe space where everyone seems to feel really able to open up and share about their challenges and how difficult life can be as a queer carer. It’s a really positive space to be in.”

Rainbow Crew meets monthly on Zoom from 10:30am-12pm on the last Friday of each month.

If you have any questions you can call 9076 6644 or email