Rainbow Resource FOR VICTORIAN COUNCILS ‘HOW TO’ KIT FOR SUPPORTING LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANS, GENDER DIVERSE AND INTERSEX INCLUSION IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Acknowledgement of Country The VLGA acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Victoria and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners, their elders past, present and future and to their cultures. 2
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CONTENTS Acknowledgement of Country
Foreword5 LGBTIQ Inclusion in Local Government Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Terminology and Language City of Darebin and Hobsons Bay City Council LGBTIQ Inclusive Practice and the Law Human Rights Law Centre Case Studies
7 8 13 14 21 22 29
Introducing the Rainbow Tick – GLHV@ARCSHS, La Trobe University
Achieving the Rainbow Tick – City of Stonnington
Developing a LGBTIQ Advisory Committee – Hobsons Bay City Council
Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – City of Darebin
Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – City of Moonee Valley
Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – Mildura Rural City Council
Partnerships Rather than Policy – Frankston City Council
Inclusion Through Events – Wyndham City Council
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT)
IDAHOBIT with a Trans Panel – City of Yarra
IDAHOBIT with the Traders Association – Banyule City Council
Show Your Pride at Midsumma
Pride March – City of Port Phillip
Older LGBTIQ People
Engagement with LGBTIQ Seniors – City of Darebin
Rainbow Families Playgroup – Nillumbik Shire Council
Multicultural LGBTIQ People
Considering Intersections of Sexuality, Gender Identity, Culture & Faith – City of Darebin
Using a Sister-city Relationship to Advance LGBTIQ Issues Abroad – City of Melbourne 58 Outing Disability – Maribyrnong City Council
Establishing an LGBTIQ Youth Group – City of Greater Geelong
Establishing an LGBTIQ Youth Group – Wyndham City Council
LGBTIQ Youth Projects – City of Whittlesea
LGBTIQ Youth Projects – Maroondah City Council
Out on the Fields – Yarra Ranges Council
Marriage Equality – a Councillor’s Campaign – Cr Mary Delahunty, Glen Eira City Council 66 Marriage Equality – a Councillor’s Campaign – Cr Michael Schilling, Cardinia Shire Council 67 Appendices 68 APPENDIX A: Annual Dates of Significance
APPENDIX B: Glossary
Note on Terminology Terminology in this document is as provided by the contributors.
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FOREWORD The â€˜Rainbow Resource for Victorian Councilsâ€™ provides many strong examples of creative, innovative and imaginative work done by agencies and councils supporting and engaging local LGBTI communities. There is no doubt that local government plays a critical role in creating an environment in which all its residents can live safe, fulfilled, engaged lives. Many Victorian councils already work closely with their LGBTI population. This resource provides some of those examples and may inspire others to explore the possibilities with their own communities. Every local government is different, every LGBTI community and individual is different. The most successful pieces of work are those that involve the local LGBTI community from the very beginning. Thank you to all the agencies and individuals that helped the Victorian Local Governance Association to create this great resource to add to the growing library of products that exist to nurture meaningful engagement with LGBTI communities.
Cr Marg Attley, President VLGA December 2017
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LGBTIQ INCLUSION IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT 7
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby About the LGBTIQ community Broadly, people of diverse sexual orientations, sex or gender identity account for about 11% of the population.1 Diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics is prevalent across the community.
10 100 250
people identify as non-heterosexual people identify as gender diverse people are intersex
There have been anti-discrimination protections for LGBTIQ people under state law since 20002 and protections for LGBTIQ people under federal law since 2013.3 Despite these legislative advancements, LGBTIQ people still face discrimination and inequality, with LGBTIQ people that live more than 10 kilometres from the inner city facing higher levels of discrimination and social isolation.4 In many places, there are no obvious LGBTIQ communities. This may be because in these areas LGBTIQ people are geographically dispersed and do not have contact with others through social networks or commercial venues. It may also be due to social or personal pressures that they are not able to openly express their sexual orientation, gender identity, or intersex status or fear hostility if they do. Because of these reasons, there is little quality data available on the demographics of the LGBTIQ communities in Victoria, including age, ethnicity, socio-economic and family status. Nevertheless, LGBTIQ people are a part of every Victorian community and local government area.
LGBTIQ community survey At the 2016 Midsumma Carnival, which is the major cultural festival for LGBTIQ Victorians, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby in conjunction with the Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) conducted a community survey asking over 230 LGBTIQ Victorians attending the carnival what issues in local government are important to them. This was the first time ever that LGBTIQ Victorians have been asked about local government issues in the Lobby’s annual community survey.
1 2 3 4
Department of Health, Australian Government, National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy (2012) 4. Equal Opportunity (Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation) Act 2000 (Vic). Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Act 2013 (Cth). James Morandini (et al), ‘Minority Stress and Community Connectedness among Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Australians: A Comparison of Rural and Metropolitan Localities’ (2015) 39(3) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 260.
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Almost half of the survey respondents were aged under 30, about a third were between 30-49 and a sixth were over 50. One in ten survey respondents identified as trans or gender diverse, that is, their gender identity is different from that assigned at birth.
of respondents said they wanted to see their local government focus on LGBTIQ inclusive health and community services.
of respondents said they wanted to see greater advocacy by local government on LGBTIQ issues, including marriage equality.
of respondents ranked engagement and consultation with LGBTIQ residents and public statements and support of LGBTIQ residents from local government as of high importance to them.
of respondents ranked LGBTIQ community events and festivals as of higher importance to them.
of respondents said it was highly important to see images of LGBTIQ residents in council publications.
These findings clearly negate the argument that local government should just be concerned with rates, roads and rubbish and leave LGBTIQ advocacy to other levels of government. The survey shows that the LGBTIQ community expects councils to advocate for and publicly support their LGBTIQ residents. LGBTIQ people want local governments to provide inclusive health and community services and want to be consulted on the issues that affect them.
Issues facing LGBTIQ people Research shows that LGBTIQ people live healthy, connected, happy and positive lives. There is increasing acceptance of LGBTIQ people in society and greater visibility in the media. Despite this, LGBTIQ people have particular needs and concerns, including higher than average levels of violence, harassment and discrimination; higher rates of poor mental health; isolation and rejection; and poorer life outcomes in terms of drug and alcohol use, homelessness and lower high school completion rates. The prevalence of ongoing discrimination and marginalisation based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status directly affects the health and wellbeing of many LGBTIQ people. The impacts are well documented and included poorer health outcomes, reduced social participation and engagement, and avoiding or delaying seeking care because of actual prejudice or fear of prejudice. These effects indicate a need for action from local governments.
Challenges and benefits Research indicates that there is a strong link between inclusive policies and practices and improved performance. A failure to adhere to legislative requirements regarding non-discrimination can result in spending council resources on dealing with complaints and discrimination claims. By taking a positive and proactive approach, councils can improve service delivery to LGBTIQ communities and attract LGBTIQ staff. Despite an increasingly supportive environment, LGBTIQ issues still seem to have the potential to invoke a high level of hostility. Fear of negative headlines in the local media can sometimes prevent a council from taking action. In practice, anxiety about a possible negative response is often far worse than the reality. Although a well-planned approach is prudent, councils should not be immobilised by fears of a backlash, either within their own institutions or within the community. A long term corporate media strategy to accompany policy development and implementation can be an effective vehicle to be positive and open about policy initiatives whilst at the same time being well prepared to deal with any adverse coverage.
Engaging with LGBTIQ communities While LGBTIQ advisory committees and policies did not rank as highly in the community survey, these are important methods for local governments to achieve greater consultation and engagement with LGBTIQ residents. Furthermore, research indicates that there are benefits to including LGBTIQ people in policy development5 and that ‘the community that local government serves is a resource’ when it comes to developing LGBTIQ inclusive initiatives.6 It is important to integrate LGBTIQ community engagement into the heart of council corporate planning rather than just treating it as an add-on. To engage properly with LGBTIQ people, it is vital for councils to acknowledge the capacity of LGBTIQ communities. LGBTIQ communities often have a rich history of activism producing many talented campaigners committed to working for equality. However, as a sector, LGBTIQ organisations can be relatively insecure and unstable due to a lack of funding, exclusion from the mainstream and institutional discrimination.
Nick Mule (et al), ‘Promoting LGBT Health and Wellbeing through Inclusive Policy Development’ (2009) 8(18) International Journal for Equity in Health; Surya Monro, ‘Evaluating Local Government Equalities Work: The Case of Sexualities Initiatives in the UK’ (2006) 32(1) Local Government Studies 19, 32-3. Monro (above n 6) 31.
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Councils may consider what social, practical and financial support can be provided to help LGBTIQ organisations and community leaders develop capability, engage with the council and play a full role in the community. Realistic timeframes and adequate notice about any intentions to involve the LGBTIQ community are also important, so that LGBTIQ community organisations can incorporate the planned activities into their work plans. Engaging with LGBTIQ communities can result in considerable benefits for LGBTIQ people, the council and the wider community. However, it is important not to see engagement as an end in itself. There is a constant need for councils to keep taking stock of their work, re-checking their information and strengthening their relationships.
Council leadership LGBTIQ people have the right to equal access to high quality public services and councils have an obligation to not discriminate against LGBTIQ residents. Whether as elected representatives, service providers or community leaders, There are many examples that demonstrate how councils can provide services and practices that are not only non-discriminatory and accessible but are fully inclusive and responsive to the needs of the LGBTIQ people. Discrimination can be institutionalised through a lack of knowledge and skills about the needs of LGBTIQ people amongst managers and frontline service providers. Councillors and senior managers have a vital role to play in developing relations with LGBTIQ communities. This role is twofold – demonstrating to LGBTIQ people that the council’s interest is genuine and widely held, and to the wider community that LGBTIQ communities matter and are valid recipients of the council’s support. Through playing a leadership role, councillors and senior managers can demonstrate to the whole of council that LGBTIQ inclusion is an important aspect of their local government.
IDEAS AND ACTIONS • Have an open discussion about LGBTIQ inclusion with colleagues in your workplace • When developing or reviewing a plan or policy, including workplace policies, ask yourself if the needs of the LGBTIQ communities of your local government area have been considered and embedded into the policy • Consider developing measures for evaluation and performance indicators to support the implementation of LGBTIQ inclusion initiatives • When contracting out to service providers, consider whether the organisation you are engaging has provisions in its policies to promote equal opportunity and protect people against discrimination or whether you should make such requirements part of the contract • Consider establishing an internal or external working group to advance LGBTIQ consultation and inclusion and, if doing so, ensuring that the working group is representative of all aspects of the LGBTIQ community
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TERMINOLOGY AND LANGUAGE 13
City of Darebin and Hobsons Bay City Council LGBTIQ, GLBTI, SSAGD… People often struggle with these acronyms, are not sure what they mean, and find it difficult to know how and where to use them. The first thing to remember is that, behind all these different combinations, we are talking about people, people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity just like anyone else. Language is a powerful tool and shapes the reality we live in. How we name things makes a difference and we should never underestimate the underlying assumptions behind the language we use and how this can lead us to exclude people unwittingly. As the Australian Human Rights Commission states, “Terminology can have a profound impact on a person’s identity, self-worth and inherent dignity. The use of inclusive and acceptable terminology empowers individuals and enables visibility of important issues.”7 Terminology in this area is at times contested and changing and there is not always clear consensus on what is appropriate terminology. While recognising these limitations, it is important to provide clarification around some of the terminology used. LGBTIQ people increasingly want assurances that services understand and are responsive to their needs, so it is important to understand how best to refer to LGBTIQ people.
Sex refers to a person’s biological or physical characteristics that define their male, female or intersex status. Sexual orientation or sexuality refers to a person’s sexual or emotional attraction to another person. Gender is defined by a person based on how they identify as male, female or non-binary (neither male nor female). Gender diversity refers to a person who identifies as neither male nor female, or as both male and female. Some people may identify as agender (having no gender), bigender (both a woman and a man) or non-binary (neither woman nor man). There is a range of non-binary gender identities such as genderqueer, gender neutral, genderfluid and third gendered. Language in this space is evolving, and people may have their own preferred gender identities that are not listed here. LGBTIQ is an internationally recognised acronym used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer/questioning people collectively. Lesbian refers to a woman who is primarily emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. Gay refers to a person who is primarily emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. The term is most commonly applied to men, although some women use this term. Bisexual refers to a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and other genders. Trans or transgender refers to a person whose gender identity is different to that assigned at birth.
Australian Human Rights Commission, SOGII Rights Snapshot Report – Background Paper (2014) 2.
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Intersex refers to a person born with genetic, hormonal or physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. A person who is intersex may identify as male, female, intersex or as being of indeterminate sex. Queer refers to a person with an alternative sexual or gender identity. It is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to include LGBTIQ people. For some, queer has a negative connotation due to past uses of the term and historical experiences of discrimination. However, in recent years, this term has been re-appropriated by the LGBTIQ community and is now used by many in LGBTIQ communities in an empowering way.
The most important consideration is to use terminology that reflects the reality of people’s lived experiences and respects them. A full glossary is provided at Appendix B.
Using inclusive language in conversation When conversing with a client or member of the public, always refrain from making assumptions about the person’s sex or gender identity based on indicators such as their voice or appearance. When interacting in person, listen to individuals and how they describe their own sexual orientation, sex and gender identity, their partner(s) and relationship(s), and reflect their choice of language. For instance, staff receiving an inquiry by phone or over the counter might want to avoid using ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ initially, until the person has given enough information or indicated what title or name they would like to be referred to by. Similarly, staff should be mindful about how to phrase queries about a person’s partner. For example, use more neutral terms such as ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’ rather than ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ or ‘he’ or ‘she’.
AVOID MISGENDERING Misgendering is using language to refer to a person that is not aligned with how that person identifies their own gender. Always refer to transgender or gender diverse people by using their preferred title, name (not necessarily their legal name) and pronouns when speaking to third parties or to them. Pronouns include female (she/her), male (he/him), and gender-neutral pronouns (they/their or other pronouns such as zie and hir). Some prefer to be described with no pronoun at all. If unsure how to refer to a person, it is okay to ask in a respectful manner. Where possible, check privately to reduce discomfort. If you do make a mistake, apologise promptly and move on, it will likely make the person feel more uncomfortable if you dwell on the mistake. Try to avoid making the same mistake again.
Using inclusive language in forms and surveys When crafting a survey or form, always start by considering whether the information being collected is relevant for the purpose of the form or survey. If it is unclear whether it is needed, it may be best to leave it out. However, if there is a need to gather disaggregated data on participants in an activity or program for monitoring or service review purposes, there is a clear rationale to include collection of specific data, and the relevant forms or surveys should do so in the manner recommended below. Anyone collecting data through forms or in a survey should have a basic understanding of how to treat and speak to LGBTIQ people with respect. In accordance with legislative privacy principles councils are bound by the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 and the Health Records Act 2001, ensuring confidentiality when collecting such information is imperative. Changing forms and surveys to be more inclusive and being mindful of the language used in interactions are but one small step to create services and organisations that are welcoming to all and appropriately respond to everyone’s needs.
Names and titles Names are often a complicated area for transgender and gender diverse people in particular, many of whom use names other than their legal names. A transgender or gender diverse person’s legal name may not reflect their gender identity and they may have a preferred name that they use. However, even after choosing a new name, the process of changing one’s legal name requires both money and time, which means that a person’s legal record may not reflect their preferred name. In addition, minors do not have the ability to change their names without their legal guardian’s permission. Include places for both legal names and preferred names, as follows:
Name: First Name: Preferred First Name:* Last Name: Preferred title (Mrs / Miss / Mr / Ms / no title): *We will use this name in all correspondence unless you request otherwise
The asterisk and note are included for the case someone who is closeted (i.e. not openly transgender or gender diverse) in their living situation. They may have a preferred name that they use with friends, but that their family members are unaware of. Receiving mail to this name would be difficult to explain and potentially threatening. If relevant, the form or survey may include a question on preferred title. Many people do not feel comfortable with any titles, so it is important to include the option to not be addressed by any of them. As this is personal information, ensure a privacy clause is included and make sure the council abides with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. 16
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Sex and gender There is not always a need to ask about gender. Where gender is relevant to the data, it is recommended to follow the following suggested format:
Gender: Female Male Other (please specify) Preferred not to specify Gender is the relevant category for most surveys and forms. There are few reasons to collect information about a person’s biological sex, e.g. in a medical context. Alternatively, where appropriate, the format of the federal guidelines can be followed:8
Sex/Gender: M (Male) F (Female) X (indeterminate/intersex/unspecified) Another option may be to simply allow people to self-identify with the format: Gender: Making sure forms and surveys include more than male and female as gender options is essential. While data collectors may be concerned that including the option of ‘other’ could interfere with their ability to categorise the data usefully, it is likely that the proportion of the population who will use this option will be very small but it is important to their comfort and sense of self. If it is not included, transgender, intersex or gender diverse people may fail to answer the relevant questions or self-select out of the process altogether. As such, this option makes the results more accurate.
Sexual orientation A person’s sexual orientation is generally not pertinent to most surveys or forms. As a general rule, do not include any questions relating to sexual orientation in forms. If considering including a question on sexual orientation in a survey or form, consider whether this information is required and why. Such a question can be useful to ask to find out whether council is being inclusive of all diversity, to explore whether council provides the same level of service to all residents regardless of sexual orientation, or to better respond to the needs of LGBTIQ residents.
Australian Government, Australian Government Guidelines on the Recognition of Sex and Gender (2015) 4-5.
To respect people’s right to privacy, it is essential to clarify that answering the question is optional and make sure that privacy is strictly maintained through data-handling and record-keeping processes. Sexual orientation is considered by the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (under the wording ‘sexual preferences and practices’) as ‘sensitive information’,9 the collection of which is strictly limited. Always check first to make sure collecting this information will comply with the restrictions set out in the Act. It is usually only warranted where the individual has consented to the collection.10 Furthermore, a council is required to “take reasonable steps to protect the personal information it holds from misuse and loss and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure”.11 This is even more the case regarding sensitive information, where a breach of privacy may be even more damaging to individuals, so ensure there are extra protections in place throughout handling and record-keeping. A suggested format to ask about respondents’ sexual orientation is as follows:
Sexual orientation (optional): Lesbian Bisexual Heterosexual Gay Other (please specify) I do not wish to answer
Where possible, for example, in online surveys, it is advised to list options in a semi-random order as opposed to following a set hierarchy. A space for specific other descriptions is recommended to allow for other sexual orientations. Depending on the population target for the survey, it may be prudent to add clarifying statements to cater for lower levels of proficiency in English (e.g. lesbian – woman attracted to women; gay – man attracted to men; etc.). It is important to not include any references to gender identity in questions about sexual orientation as these categories are separate, for example, ‘transgender’ should never be an option for a question about sexual orientation because it is a gender identity. Finally, it is also important to note that a person’s sexual orientation does not necessarily predict or describe their sexual behaviour, for example, do not assume that a man who identifies as heterosexual does not have, or has not had, sex with men. Always explain why the question is being asked as it might make people safer or more comfortable answering truthfully. It might also be useful to add that the information cannot be traced back to the respondent individually.
9 10 11
Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 Sch 1. Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 Sch 1, s 10. Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 Sch 1, s 4.1.
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Partners Where it is relevant to ask about a person’s partner, use gender neutral terms such as ‘partner’ or ‘spouse’ rather than ‘husband’ or ‘wife’.
Parents or guardians For childcare, kindergarten and holiday care forms, there may be a need to know who is responsible for providing consent for the child to participate in activities and who should be contacted in an emergency. Including only ‘mother’ and ‘father’ as the option for parents ignores the situation of many families; for example, a child who was raised by a lesbian couple, a transgender parent, three cohabiting adults, adoptive parents or grandparents. The terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ should be replaced simply by the gender-neutral label ‘parent/guardian’, number 1, 2, 3 and so on. For maternal and child health forms, it is sometimes necessary to ask questions in relation to the post-birth care of the birth mother and breastfeeding of the baby. In this instance, it may be relevant to including a separate question about who is the birth mother.
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LGBTIQ INCLUSIVE PRACTICE AND THE LAW 21
Human Rights Law Centre Whether you are a local government officer managing staff or delivering services to the community or a councillor performing public functions, it is important to know your legal rights and obligations. These legal obligations extend to a whole range of council activities, from employment to local lawmaking to delivering goods and services. It is important that in the performance of these functions you do not discriminate against LGBTIQ people and, preferably, proactively think about how to better include the needs and human rights of LGBTIQ people in your work. Promoting LGBTIQ inclusive practice in your work can help minimise your council’s legal liability.
Key concepts The concept of equality is at the heart of discrimination law. The trend toward anti-discrimination measures has grown out of the realisation that the quest for social equality is one of the most powerful political impulses of our age. However, equality is a “treacherously simple concept”12 that is quite complicated. There are two main strands to equality: formal equality and substantive equality. Formal equality is the idea that no one should be treated unfavourably because of a protected attribute, such as their gender identity, sexual orientation or intersex status. In essence, all people should be treated the same without regard to their differences. This is embodied in the prohibition against direct discrimination or differential treatment due to sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Substantive equality recognises that the same treatment to all can lead to disadvantage or a poorer outcome for some people because of certain attributes, such as their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. This is embodied in the prohibition against indirect discrimination, that is, imposing an ostensibly equal requirement, condition or practice that would actually have the effect of disadvantaging certain people or groups.
Legal framework Australia’s anti-discrimination law is a statutory-based scheme that has developed alongside the civil rights movements and reflects international human rights law and conventions. Unlike many other areas of law, a person with a discrimination problem has multiple jurisdictions in which they can lodge their complaint. Operating in this space is an intersecting mixture of state and federal laws, including: • Commonwealth anti-discrimination law – the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 • State anti-discrimination law – the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 • Commonwealth employment law – the Fair Work Act 2009. This is quite complex legal terrain as discrimination law only covers certain types of treatment, in certain areas of life, related to certain characteristics or attributes. However, when you are confronting an issue of LGBTIQ discrimination from a legal standpoint, there are four crucial issues to consider: • coverage - does the discrimination claimed come under the legislation? • attributes - does the person claiming to be discriminated against have a protected attribute? • discrimination - is there discrimination? • exceptions - do any of the exemptions apply? 12
Rikki Holtmaat, ‘The Concept of Discrimination’ (Paper presented at Academy of European Law Conference, 4 June 2004) 2.
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Coverage It is first necessary to determine if the conduct has occurred in a sphere of life that is covered by the statutes. Without a connection with a sphere of coverage or area of public life, there cannot be a breach of the laws. Whilst the Fair Work Act 2009 only applies to employment,13 the areas that the anti-discrimination statutes cover include: • employment, recruitment and contract work14 • provision of goods, services and facilities15 • provision of accommodation16 • education17 • clubs18 • recreational sport19 • performance of a councillor’s public functions.20 Under Victorian law, employers and service providers, including local councils, have a duty to eliminate discrimination as far as possible.21
Attributes The statutes make it unlawful to discriminate by reason of certain protected attributes or characteristics. It is only unlawful discrimination if there is a connection with one or more of the attributes listed in the statutes. These include: • sex22 • marital and relationship status23 • sexual orientation or preference, which includes homosexuality, bisexuality and heterosexuality24 • gender identity25 • intersex status.26
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘FWA’) s 342(1) Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (‘SDA’) ss 14-16; Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) (‘EOA’) ss 16-22 SDA s 22; EOA s 44 SDA s 22; EOA s 52-53 SDA s 22; EOA s 38 SDA s 22; EOA s 64-65 SDA s 22; EOA s 71-72 EOA s 73 EOA s 15 SDA s 5; EOA s 6(o); FWA s 351(1) SDA s 5; EOA s 6(h); FWA s 351(1) SDA s 5; EOA s 6(p); FWA s 351(1) SDA s 5B (includes gender expression); EOA s 6(d) SDA s 5C
Scenarios Juliet has a masculine presentation and expresses herself by not wearing dresses. The council that she works at has a dress code in place that says that women must wear dresses and men must wear trousers. Juliet believes that the dress code impacts unfairly on her as she does not feel comfortable wearing dresses. What would you think about when reviewing this policy?
Tyre Council has forms that collect information about sex and gender. Robin comes to a service desk at the council and says, ‘I want to change my gender marker. I now identify as a woman and I used to identify as a man. Can I please change that on my council record?’ Would you require Robin to produce some piece of information – a birth certificate, a medical certificate or some other evidence of her gender identity – before allowing that change? What gender markers do you have on your council forms – male, female or other? Do you even need to collect this information at all?
Imogen visits a council-run aquatics centre and uses the women’s change room. She is approached by a staff member who thinks that her genitalia, which has a mixture of more masculine characteristics as well as female characteristics, would be confronting to other women in that change room. She is asked to change in a broom closet as an alternative because the staff member did not want to put her in the male change room. Imogen finds this incredibly distressing. What steps would you have taken to make sure that Imogen did not suffer indignity and poor treatment because of her intersex status?
Discrimination based on an attribute also includes discrimination on the basis of a characteristic that a person with that attribute generally has or a characteristic that is generally imputed to people with that attribute.
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Discrimination It is then necessary to determine if the treatment is unlawful. Under the law, discrimination is treating someone unfairly because of a personal attribute and causing that person to be disadvantaged as a result. Direct discrimination Direct discrimination is unfavourable treatment because of a protected attribute.27 Indirect discrimination Indirect discrimination is imposing on everyone a requirement, condition or practice: • that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons with a protected attribute28 • that is not reasonable.29
Scenario Bianca’s pregnant partner is a casual worker at a casino who does not have any paid parental leave entitlements. Bianca works at Mantua Council, which has a paid parental leave policy that states that maternity leave is available to women that give birth and partner leave is available for men. There is no provision for same-sex couples in Mantua Council’s parental leave policy. The policy disadvantages Bianca because, although she is not giving birth, she wants to access some form of parental leave. What would you look at when reviewing this policy? What would happen if this was a gay couple having a child through surrogacy?
Exceptions Certain areas are exempt from the operation of anti-discrimination laws. These include: • provision of domestic or personal services30 • genuine occupational requirements of employment – in relation to sex only - e.g. fitting of clothing, body searches, and dramatic and artistic work for the purposes of credibility or authenticity31 • certain jobs involving the care of children32 • acts done with statutory authority33 • competitive sport – in relation to sex, gender identity and intersex status only – where strength, stamina or physique is relevant.34 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
SDA ss 5-6; EOA s 8(1).. SDA ss 5-6; EOA s 9(1)(a). SDA s 7B(1); EOA s 9(1)(b). SDA s 14(3); EOA s 24 SDA s 30; EOA s 26 SDA s 35; EOA s 25 SDA s 40; EOA s 75 SDA s 42; EOA s 72.
Organisations can also apply for special exemptions and take special measures or affirmative action.35 This can include special programs targeted at the needs of a vulnerable group.
Scenario Arden Council Youth Services wanted to restrict entry to a gay function to gay patrons to protect the safety and comfort of those attending. It argued that this was a special measure to redress disadvantaged by gay community members who experience discrimination.
Do you think this is an appropriate special measure?
CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES ACT 2006 The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) requires all arms of government to consider human rights as part of decision-making processes, act compatibly with human rights, and interpret and apply laws compatibly with human rights. The Charter applies to Victorian public authorities, namely city councils and public officials and authorities. Public authoritiesâ€™ obligations cannot be avoided by outsourcing.36 The Charter compels local government, as a public authority, to take human rights into consideration when making laws, setting policies and in the provision of services. This adds an additional mode of accountability. Under the Charter, people are entitled to equality before the law, equal protection of the law, and protection against discrimination on the same basis as under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic).
35 SDA ss 42, 44; EOA ss 72, 89. See e.g. Royal Victorian Bowls Association  VCAT 2415 (26 November 2008); Darebin City Council Youth Services v Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission  VCAT 1693; Peel Hotel  VCAT 916 (24 May 2007). 36 Metro West v Sudi  VCAT 2025 (9 October 2009).
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Scenarios Emilia is a transgender woman who loves to dance. She is unsure of whether a council-run dance class, which is advertised as a women’s dance class, is suitable for her. What would you do to make sure that Emilia has access to this activity?
Maria, being admitted to a residential facility operated by a local council, felt uncomfortable to reveal that the “friend” accompanying her at admission was really her same-sex partner. Her partner was therefore not given the same visiting and decision-making rights as Maria’s children.
What would you do to indicate that your service is inclusive?
IDEAS AND ACTIONS • Review policies and processes for gender neutral language and inclusion of LGBTIQ people • Consider the needs of LGBTIQ people at every stage of your policy planning and development • Join the employer support program, Pride in Diversity • Attend training on LGBTIQ inclusion and cultural capability (for example, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria’s HOW2 Program) • Establish LGBTIQ reference groups to get advice and input from LGBTIQ communities (and consider paying sitting fees)
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Maribyrnong Council partnered with Family Planning NSW for the project, which is a highly praised photographic exhibition developed in partnership with internationally acclaimed photographer Belinda Mason.
CASE STUDIES 29
The following case studies outline the work underway in many councils to be more LGBTIQ inclusive. They include stories from those who have just begun working in this area, to those who have had years of experience engaging closely with LGBTIQ communities. The language used in these case studies reflects the different stages each of these organisations is at on their LGBTIQ inclusion journey.
Introducing the Rainbow Tick â€“ GLHV@ARCSHS, La Trobe University GLHV@ARCSHS is an independent, state government funded LGBTIQ health and wellbeing policy and resource unit at La Trobe University. Over the past decade, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) has received increasing requests from LGBTIQ individuals and organisations for LGBTIQ inclusive health and community services, including from local governments who want to ensure the provision and delivery of LGBTIQinclusive services across their organisation. Most consumers are aware that services can show they are LGBTIQ friendly by placing a rainbow flag on their door or website or by listing their service in LGBTIQ media. However, LGBTIQ consumers often ask for assurances that services understand and will be responsive to their needs. In response to these requests, GLHV has developed a systemic approach to helping organisations understand and respond to the needs of LGBTIQ consumers, staff and volunteers. Service providers identified that it would be useful to establish a benchmark for LGBTIQinclusive practice through the development of standards and indicators. In response, GLHV developed a quality assessment and improvement framework, developing six LGBTIQ-inclusive practice standards accompanied by practical strategies and quality-based indicators.
LGBTIQ-inclusive practice standards 1. Organisational capability
4. Consumer participation
2. Cultural safety
5. Disclosure and documentation
3. Professional development
6. Access and intake processes.
The development of these standards and indicators provides a benchmark against which services can be independently accredited for the first time in Australia. This project is called the Rainbow Tick, an initiative developed by GLHV in consultation with Quality Innovation Performance (QIP). The Rainbow Tick aims to assist health and human service organisations to understand and develop services that are inclusive of LGBTIQ people. A particular section or type of service within an organisation may get the tick, for example, aged care.
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Aims of LGBTIQ-inclusive practice • Assist organisations to understand and acknowledge the needs of LGBTIQ consumers • Support organisations to develop services that meet the needs of LGBTIQ consumers • Improve the quality and safety of services provided to LGBTIQ consumers • Enable LGBTIQ consumers to access a database of services that have been accredited as LGBTIQ inclusive.
Understanding the aims of LGBTIQ-inclusive practice is important. Some service providers believe that the success of inclusive practice can be measured by an increase in the number of LGBTIQ consumers who are willing and able to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. While this may be one indicator of the inclusivity of a service, it is important to remember that the aim of LGBTIQ inclusive practice is to ensure that the needs of LGBTIQ consumers are understood and that they feel valued and respected, regardless of whether or not they disclose. It is also expected that the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ consumers will improve as a result of services understanding their needs. The Rainbow Tick accreditation cycle involves a staged approach in which organisations are assessed against the LGBTIQ-inclusive practice standards and are engaged in building quality improvement into their operations. Gaining Rainbow Tick accreditation requires considerable planning, resources, and commitment. For organisations that are only just beginning the process of becoming LGBTIQ-inclusive, the road from internal audit to Rainbow Tick may take up to 18 months.
Internal audit The accreditation cycle begins with a gap analysis by the participating organisation to get a sense of how LGBTIQ-inclusive their current practices, protocols and procedures are. This can be conducted using the audit tool developed by GLHV, GLBTI-inclusive practice audit for health and human services. The audit tool is a simple and not time consuming method that can be used to identify achievements and to determine where improvements are required against each of the six standards that make up the Rainbow Tick. Following the gap analysis, the organisation should develop an action plan to meet the standards. This can be supported using The Rainbow Tick: Evidence and good practice guide (a revised 2nd edition will soon be available, The Rainbow Tick Guide to LGBTI-Inclusive Practice). GLHV also provides additional LGBTIQ-inclusive resources and training, including the HOW2 Program that focuses on organisational systems and culture change. The HOW2 Program takes organisational representatives through each of the six standards that make up the Rainbow Tick and helps them adopt the Rainbow Tick quality framework to guide the development and implementation of LGBTIQ-inclusive practice within their organisation. For an organisation considering going for Rainbow Tick accreditation, the HOW2 Program is an excellent way of getting a sense of how ready they are, identifying gaps and areas of service provision that need work, and developing an LGBTIQ-inclusive action plan. The costs for the HOW2 Program are listed on GLHV’s website.
Self-assessment Organisations complete a self-assessment in QIP’s unique online assessment tool, AccreditationPro, in the lead up to the external review. For each indicator the organisation is required to check off ways in which they meet the requirements for the indicator, plans for improvement and to rate how well they think they are doing. The organisation is also asked to upload examples of evidence for assessors so that they can substantiate the rating. Self-assessment provides the opportunity to foster ownership of the process and to promote success and sustainability. In rating a standard, the organisation will analyse the evidence for all indicators for that standard and assess how, as a whole, it demonstrates there is a system that achieves the intent of the standard. When the organisation is satisfied that it has addressed all the standards and indicators it can apply to be externally assessed.
External assessment An external assessment complements the self-assessment and reinforces organisational capability building and quality improvement. The external assessment team at QIP will first consider the organisation’s self-assessment. The assessment team’s job is then to build on the organisation’s own findings and determine whether the organisation meets the standards based on evidence, including that gained through document review, site visits, inspections and interviews. Assessing whether a organisation meets the Rainbow Tick standards requires clear supporting evidence. The external assessors will provide their own rating of the achievements relating to each standard as well as providing comments and recommendations for ongoing improvements. At the conclusion of the assessment, the assessment team gives the organisation some general feedback about their findings and informs them of how standards have been rated. QIP will charge organisations to cover the cost involved in conducting and writing up an assessment. Costs may vary depending on the type and size of the service, so it is important that you check with QIP about what costs are involved.
Accreditation report and quality workplan Following the external assessment, an accreditation report will be provided by QIP to the organisation. After the accreditation report has been finalised, the organisation is required to develop and implement a quality improvement plan that will strengthen the systems that currently exist. This plan should be realistic and achievable within a three-year period and focus on evidence-based improvements. The organisation’s progress against this plan will be monitored at mid-cycle.
Awarding a Rainbow Tick Once the organisation has successfully met the standards, QIP will award the organisation a Rainbow Tick. Organisations that gain Rainbow Tick accreditation can display the accredited logo and will be listed on a national registry of Rainbow Ticked agencies. The Rainbow Tick will be valid for a period of three years, when a new accreditation cycle commences.
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Achieving the Rainbow Tick – City of Stonnington That distinctive rainbow located at the bottom of our e-mail signatures, on our client newsletters and on our website may be small in size, but represents an ethos of LGBTIQ inclusive practice and a long journey towards Rainbow Tick accreditation for the City of Stonnington’s Aged Services. Rainbow Tick accreditation was an initiative that originated in Aged Services due a consultation conducted in 2007 in preparation for the Stonnington Older Persons Strategy. Council conducted a street survey to determine service gaps and the needs of older people living within the municipality. Feedback from that survey indicated that we needed to develop our aged services to make them more accessible and responsive to older LGBTIQ people living within the municipality. Once the council was aware of the Rainbow Tick, we were keen to be involved. The Rainbow Tick consists of six standards against which services can be formally accredited to demonstrate LGBTIQ inclusive practice and service delivery. In June 2012, we were one of the organisations that took part in the pilot of the Rainbow Tick audit and accreditation process. Following on from this, in June 2015, the City of Stonnington’s Aged Services received its second Rainbow Tick accreditation. Undergoing this process once again has reaffirmed for us the immense benefit that accreditation can provide an organisation. Some of these include: • improved staff awareness • a greater sense of sensitivity with regards to an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity • an understanding of better practice • the development of an inclusive Service Delivery Model The Rainbow Tick is something that is truly achievable for all councils. With some additional training, we found that achieving accreditation was a matter of formalising processes that we were already enacting and improving upon existing documents. Other Departments are now also focused on inclusive service provision in this space, such as Children and Family Services, including Youth Services. As with the first Rainbow Tick, the second time around, we re-allocated existing resources, as evidence needed to be collected, staff had to be briefed and an on-site audit had to take place. Logistics aside, it is worth noting that although we had been down this road before, we still had a few challenges, because the Rainbow Tick does not allow an organisation to rest on its laurels. Whilst undergoing our reassessment, we realised that we had to refocus our efforts with consultation. This was purely due to the existence of our Non-Disclosure Policy, which stipulates that clients are under no obligation to disclose their LGBTIQ status. As such, we do not know the identity of our LGBTIQ clients, making it difficult to target them specifically for consultations, but this is not to say that we would ever choose to do away with this policy, which is at the core of providing LGBTIQ cultural safety. The implementation of a Non-Disclosure Policy allows our clients to feel safe and respected. And in Stonnington, whist we are certain that we have many clients who are LGBTIQ, we do not know who they are unless they tell us and even then, we do not record this information unless our clients specifically ask us to. The outcome of this is that we have the opportunity to provide a range of services to all our community in a safe and respectful manner.
To expand on our consultation efforts, we have further developed our Communication and Consultation Policy to cover all aspects of consultation with the local community and our clients. With regards to our LGBTIQ community, this has included: • an LGBTIQ e-mail address • an annual Aged Services Survey with LGBTIQ content • staff attending the Midsumma Carnival every year, ready to engage with the community on a wide range of issues • engaging with LGBTIQ groups and organisations In our last Aged Services Survey conducted in June last year, we asked clients if they felt that Aged Services is committed to providing services to our diverse community, including sexual and gender diversity. The vast majority of respondents (97%) said ‘yes’. We have also received a great deal of positive feedback from community members at the Midsumma Carnival, which we attend every year. In short, the Rainbow Tick journey is one that is not only challenging, but exciting and achievable. The City of Stonnington’s Aged Services will continue to refine the skills of its staff, and engage in self-reflection in an effort to remain as LGBTIQ inclusive as possible.
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Developing a LGBTIQ Advisory Committee – Hobsons Bay City Council On 3 February 2010, a LGBTIQ forum was held by Hobsons Bay City Council as part of Midsumma Festival in recognition of the emerging LGBTIQ community in Hobsons Bay and the broader Western metropolitan region. The forum attracted 92 attendees and 12 stall holders. Following the forum, a report was produced outlining LGBTIQ issues. The information collected from the forum and recommendations in the report advised on how the council could respond to the various needs identified by the local LGBTIQ community and stage future events to engage with this community. One of the recommendations that was generated via this report was the establishment of a LGBTIQ advisory committee. On 14 December 2010, a motion was adopted by the council that a report be prepared by the council officers about the potential formation of a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (GLBTIQ) Advisory Group. Council resolved that this report be prepared with a view to having it presented to an ordinary council meeting by May 2011. The Advisory Committee officially began on 19 October 2011. The committee meets quarterly and is chaired by a councillor delegate. Since its inception, this committee has advised the council on a number of programs, projects and events that have contributed to raising awareness and understanding about the LGBTIQ community in and around Hobsons Bay. Some of these projects include: • Rainbow flag raising for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT – see breakout box at page 45) • Supporting the GOWEST Festival as part of Midsumma Carnival • Rainbow Crossing exhibit • West and Proud Film project The Committee has also assisted in informing internal council practices and reviewing service delivery areas, such as the inclusion of LGBTIQ communities in diversity training for new staff and assisting libraries in updating their collections to reflect rainbow families and LGBTIQ inclusive literature. Currently, the Advisory Committee is supporting council in developing the LGBTIQ Action Plan in line with the key themes that emerged from the 2015 ‘Out is In’ Forum.
Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – City of Darebin Darebin has long been known for its diversity, a defining feature that residents are attached to and that the council prides itself on supporting and fostering. This diversity is not only cultural and linguistic and the council has a much broader understanding of diversity (including age, gender, abilities, income, occupation, education and of course sexuality and gender identity), with many intersecting layers. This broadened understanding of diversity is partly what led us to become more LGBTIQ-inclusive as a council. Some of our residents had been advocating about the need for the council to be more LGBTIQ-inclusive for some years. In 2010, councillors heeded the call and identified LGBTIQinclusiveness as a gap in the council’s work, leading to a community forum being organised to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) 2011. The forum highlighted the continued discrimination against LGBTIQ people and its impact on their health and wellbeing and identified gaps, needs, issues and areas for action. Two key recommendations emerged: establishing a LGBTIQ advisory committee to the council and developing an LGBTIQ action plan. 36
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In parallel to these developments, there was an increased organisational awareness of LGBTIQ residents as a component of our community’s diversity that the council was not considering, when both human rights and social inclusion principles required us to do so. In response, the council developed a human rights-based Equity and Inclusion Policy. The policy identifies 12 groups at risk of exclusion in our municipality (including our LGBTIQ residents) and seeks to ensure that the council as an organisation, its services and programs and the wider Darebin community are made more welcoming, supportive and inclusive of, and responsive and accessible to, these 12 groups.
Target groups • Aboriginal people • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities • People on low incomes • Homeless people • Young people • Older people • Children • People with disabilities • People with mental illness • LGBTIQ people • Women • Socially isolated people Building on this new framework and on the recommendations from the 2011 forum, in March 2012, the council established the Sexuality, Sex and Gender Diversity Advisory Committee comprising of Darebin LGBTIQ residents and representatives from peak bodies or organisations. The Committee’s first task was to help council staff develop an action plan, through their input and expertise and through assistance with sustained external engagement, notably community forums. Staff tasked with developing the plan also undertook extensive internal engagement to ensure that our plan would be as whole-of-council as possible (although not every part of the organisation was responsive). To develop an evidence-based policy, and as local data wasn’t always readily available, Australiawide and Victoria-wide evidence and research (including publications from Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society such as ‘Private Lives’ and ‘Writing themselves in’; ‘Well proud’ from the Ministerial Advisory Committee on GLBTI Health and Wellbeing; and more research and good practice guides) were used. Complemented by the finer, more directly locally relevant input from our advisory committee and participants to our community forums, they helped refine needs, gaps and areas for action. Through this collaborative work between the council and the committee, the Sexuality, Sex and Gender Diversity Action Plan (SSGD-AP) was developed. The SSGD-AP was endorsed by the council in August 2012 and aims to strengthen the participation and rights of all in Darebin, regardless of sexuality, sex or gender identity.
The SSGD-AP looks at: • Council as an organisation – to achieve an organisational culture that is welcoming, inclusive and respectful of LGBTIQ staff and strives for equal opportunity through: –– LGBTIQ-sensitive internal practices –– research & data-gathering –– partnerships • Council’s services and programs – to ensure that our services programs and policies are accessible and responsive to, and inclusive and supportive of, LGBTIQ residents through: –– reviewing services for LGBTIQ-inclusiveness (notably through language) –– youth services –– libraries –– aged and disability services –– family and children services –– communications and marketing –– community grants • Community – to help foster a Darebin community culture that is inclusive and respects LGBTIQ residents’ full and equal participation in community life through: –– visibility – recognising and celebrating LGBTIQ residents –– community events, arts and culture, sports and leisure –– exploring intersections (including sexuality, ethnicity, age, abilities) –– safety –– advocacy. The SSGD-AP also recognises the dual role of the advisory committee of both advising on and monitoring the implementation of the plan. Through the Advisory Committee and their implication in the action plan from development to implementation to reporting and monitoring, there is a real sense of partnership and collaboration. And collaboration is really what helped us on along the Darebin journey to LGBTIQ-inclusion: collaboration with peak bodies and other councils, collaboration across departments within the council and, of course, collaboration with the Darebin community! Four years on, there have been challenges along the way, notably the varied levels of ownership of, and support to, the SSGD-AP across the organisation. While the SSGD-AP is a whole-ofcouncil plan, embedding it across the organisation has taken (and will continue to take) time and sustained efforts. Regularly renewed support from the highest levels of the organisation down is paramount to ensure that this happens and that the issue of LGBTIQ-inclusiveness does not lose momentum. Nonetheless, the SSGD-AP has provided a very valuable roadmap for the council to become more LGBTIQ-inclusive across our services, in our internal practices and in our events and interactions with the community. Darebin residents tell us as much through community surveys, Darebin LGBTIQ staff feel more valued and recognised, and our advisory committee members and LGBTIQ residents (when we see them at Midsumma Carnival or community events we organise or support) say so - even when they invite and challenge us to do more and continue improving!
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Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – City of Moonee Valley Moonee Valley’s first LGBTIQ Action Plan 2015-17 was adopted by the council in June 2015 to improve access and equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer community members. The Action Plan contains 33 actions which the council is committed to over a two-year timeframe, based on the four themes of our Diversity, Access and Equity Policy: • fostering respect and celebrating diversity • promoting participation • creating accessible places and spaces • leadership and representation. A two-year implementation program was identified as an achievable and meaningful timeline to achieve change and address priorities identified during the consultation phase. The process of developing the plan was underpinned by good principles: community governance, strong leadership, thorough planning, and genuine engagement. Actions were developed based on background research, best practice, staff engagement, and community consultation. A series of activities were undertaken to better understand issues, priorities and opportunities for our community, including discussion evenings, a community survey and the development of a working group. The LGBTIQ Working Group consists of a number of community members, council officers and a councillor as chair, to guide the development and delivery of the Action Plan. Some of the highlights from the first year of implementation include: • Rainbow Stories in the Valley, showcasing stories from local community members, displayed at libraries, community centres and events • Midsumma Premier Event All You Need Is Love, a photographic exhibition celebrating diverse families • inaugural rainbow tent at Moonee Valley Festival, with community members contributing over 200 signatures and comments to our custom rainbow flag • establishment of the Queer Youth Group, providing social support for young people • public letters of support for Safe Schools Coalition Australia • A film screening of Gayby Baby to mark IDAHOBIT • rainbow flags flown at major junctions throughout the municipality to celebrate events across the year • commencement of training for all aged care sector staff, to support inclusive practice. The success of the first year of implementation of this Action Plan can be attributed to partnerships across council departments, strong political support from councillors, champions within senior management, and guidance from the LGBTIQ Working Group. The endorsement of a specific Action Plan demonstrates the council’s genuine commitment to LGBTIQ inclusion in Moonee Valley. Council is accountable to deliver on adopted actions, and is able to respond to emerging issues based on our policy position. A final review following the two-year implementation program will identify priorities and actions for future years, to ensure our goal of improving access and equity for Moonee Valley’s LGBTIQ community continues to be achieved.
Developing an LGBTIQ Action Plan – Mildura Rural City Council
One of the softly spoken issues in the Mildura region was the exclusion of LGBTIQ people in our community due to stigma and discrimination. Mildura Rural City Council (MRCC) was very aware of the unheard voices of these members of our community when it comes to public discussion and decision making. Council’s Community Futures Branch and Social Inclusion Officer took a lead in addressing this disconnect and undertook an extensive process within the community that included desktop research, online survey and face-to-face discussions with members of the LGBTIQ community, service providers and schools. Lack of awareness and education on LGBTIQ, discrimination and isolation, lack of engagement and consultation, and lack of services and programs were identified as problems or issues during online survey. The research showed that these issues and problems impacting our LGBTIQ community were increasing at an alarming rate in Mildura and needed to be recognised at a broader community level. It emphasised that our LGBTIQ community were striving for recognition, acknowledgement and positive support from the council and the community. The region notably lacked a LGBTIQ group or organisation through which residents could have a voice. Council formed a GLBTIQ Community Reference Group in 2015 to identify opportunities for engagement and consultation. Both the council and the Reference Group agreed to work in partnership and to acknowledge and raise awareness of diversity within the community and collaborated to prepare a formal plan to improve the quality of life for LGBTIQ residents living in the municipality. A Facebook page, ‘Mildura Pride’ was created to reach the broader LGBTIQ community who were living in isolation, hidden, scattered or who wanted to maintain privacy. Two community events (‘Gayby Baby’ film screening at Deakin Cinema and a public conversation with Benjamin Law, ‘Growing up Gay’) were organised to increase public awareness and engage with the LGBTIQ community and their families. The events had a significant impact by providing a platform to raise public awareness and support LGBTIQ residents within both the council and community.
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All of these activities contributed to the development of a 12-month GLBTIQ Inclusion Plan which is driven by the Reference Group. The plan has identified the following key priorities: • Education, Respect and Awareness • Anti-Discrimination • Celebrating Diversity • Engagement and Consultation Making a landmark, the GLBTIQ Inclusion Plan was presented to councillors by members of the Reference Group and endorsed by the council on January 2016. Both the council and GLBTIQ Community Reference Group have been actively working together to translate those plans into actions. This has resulted in some outstanding achievements for the group and the council, including: • The GLBTIQ Community Reference Group and its members are now highly visible in the wider community and are passionate advocates on LGBTIQ issues. The Group is growing its networks and building relationships with other stakeholders. The group has a regular monthly meeting schedule and is committed to strengthening its role and recognition in the community. • The Mildura Pride Facebook page has attracted approximately 560 ‘likes’ and the number of visits and comments in the page is increasing. It has provided a platform to engage and express views in a safe yet public way (people could either publicly participate or private message or just view the page initially). • The council delivered a community event that included flying the rainbow flag on IDAHOBIT at three of its main Service Centres, including in a remote rural community in the municipality. • A Rainbow Sticker Campaign is reaching the doorsteps of local shops and businesses. The simple but effective campaign is aimed at creating a supportive, safe and welcoming environment for LGBTIQ people. Council prints rainbow stickers and GLBTIQ Reference Group members visit shops, business houses and offices advocating for them to put a rainbow sticker on their door or customer service areas. Any interested business owner, worker or community member can also collect the stickers from the Group members and the council. So far, more than 200 stickers have been distributed. • The extensive range of social activities and events are providing opportunities for building relationships, community participation and increasing the general sense of inclusion for LGBTIQ residents and their families. Of particular success was the community cinema night where a LGBTIQ relevant movie was screened, the event was supported by over 80 people. • Positive local media coverage on the GLBTIQ Inclusion Plan and activities has been playing a significant role to raised public debate and awareness. This 12-month Inclusion Plan was based on the need to strengthen relationships, trust and demonstrate commitment to inclusion of LGBTIQ residents. The success of this commitment and partnership with the Reference Group provides an excellent foundation for the relationship between the council and LGBTIQ community members to grow and develop into the future. A new Plan can be expected based on evaluation and need. Consultation and collaboration with our LGBTIQ community and the Reference Group will determine future activities and programs.
Partnerships Rather than Policy – Frankston City Council Partnerships, not policy, were the levers for change at Frankston City Council. Frankston Council’s Health and Wellbeing Plan provides the basis for a great deal of work around the inclusion of a number of diverse groups in the municipality. But while the plan promotes diversity, inclusion and community across a number of areas, one group who are not mentioned are our LGBTIQ community. This has not stopped us from taking the values of this policy document and applying them to new areas. During the mid-2000s, Frankston City Council Youth Services offered a social support group to teenagers questioning their sexuality. This was seen as a legitimate role for local government, to respond to troubled teens with psychological support during their adolescent years. Indeed, through this role Frankston City Council became a key player in the local LGBTIQ support sector, forming the relationships with other sector players which would ultimately lead to new partnerships for action. When council officers became aware that Peninsula Health, a public healthcare service provider in the region, were interested in supporting a Frankston based event for the Midsumma Festival in 2015, an opportunity was identified. Council, as owner/operator of significant local arts spaces could play a role in supporting this event, and by extension, Frankston’s LGBTIQ communities. For Midsumma 2015, Frankston City Council’s Cube 37 became a hub for LGBTIQ locals, with an art exhibition, nightly digital presentations and ‘Peninsula Proud’ Health and Wellbeing Community Day. The Community Day, which was publicised in the Midsumma guide, was a partnership between Peninsula Health, Frankston City Council and neighbouring Mornington Peninsula Shire Council. With over 100 people attending for information on local LGBTIQ friendly services, a barbeque, hands-on art and an opportunity to bring LGBTIQ locals together, the day was a great success. In the lead up to the Community Day, an art exhibition ‘Peninsula Proud – family, friends, community’ was held as a commentary by local artists reflecting on family and extended networks. Over 25 art pieces were submitted and a People’s Choice award went to ‘Keep Calm - Love is Love’. From here, momentum began to build as other partners saw the council’s work on LGBTIQ inclusion. In April 2015, the council received a request from a Victoria Police Officer that the rainbow flag be raised at the Civic Centre for IDAHOBIT. Over 40 people attended then stayed on for a morning tea. This was repeated in 2016 with the rainbow flag raised by the Mayor. To add a bit of sparkle to the day, a seniors’ exercise group from one of the council’s community centres learned some new dance moves and adorned themselves with streamers. As people walked from the flagpoles to the IDAHOBIT reception across the road, the flash mob came to life and stopped the crowd on the footpath with a rousing version of ‘We Are Family’. While these events have brought many from the LGBTIQ community together to connect, supporting them to find a voice is the next step. Consultation for the council’s Health and Wellbeing Plan and Council Plan is due in the next 6 months and LGBTIQ residents will be encouraged to make their issues and aspirations heard by their local government.
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Inclusion Through Events – Wyndham City Council During Midsumma in 2016, Wyndham City hosted its home-grown Park Lounge event. Generations of western suburbs LGBTIQ people, their allies and friends, gathered in Kelly Park, Werribee. Western suburbs families danced and sang, talked and lounged, amongst an array of bean bags beneath wide branching trees. Puppetry and political panel discussions were matched by BOLD storytelling as circus performers, musicians, writers, librarians, masseurs and martial arts practitioners led over 200 people through an active afternoon into a relaxing twilight. Wyndham’s LGBTIQ inclusion story began when the council hosted its first rainbow flag-raising ceremony at the Wyndham Civic Centre in 2011 to recognise IDAHOBIT and declare a commitment to supporting LGBTIQ communities in the western suburbs. It was a modest but significant first step, attended by a handful of staff and councillors without any significant presence of community members. Following that first flag-raising, a small picnic was held during Midsumma 2012. Some local LGBTIQ residents who met each other for the first time at that picnic got together in the months that followed and formed the Wyndham Rainbow Neighbours community group, with the support of Community Development staff. Around the same time, in Youth Services, the Q social group and committee grew for same sex attracted and gender diverse young people. Engaging with these community groups helped to build the council’s understanding of the need to tackle homophobia and transphobia, and to create safe public spaces and workspaces. Since then, the council has steadily broadened the scope of its engagement, with an increasing number and diversity of schools, community organisations, youth groups, artists and workplaces participating in IDAHOBIT and Midsumma each year. In 2016, around 100 people – diverse community members, staff from different departments and various councillors – attended the IDAHOBIT flag raising at the Wyndham Civic Centre. Many also took part in a workshop with the Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, Ro Allen.
Since then, gender diversity training has been piloted for libraries and other staff. In this way, the council has been ‘coming out’ to celebrate diversity in gender and sexuality, and communicate commitment to making workplaces and communities safe, inclusive and respectful. Throughout, the leadership of councillors, the CEO and Directors has been crucial. They have created the enabling environment for staff to champion diversity in gender and sexuality across all council business, including through: • allocation of staff time within specific roles for development of LGBTIQ-specific projects and engagement with LGBTIQ community members • networking across departments to support staff with their initiatives to deliver inclusive programs • professional development to raise awareness about inclusive workplace practice • use of internal and external communications to note days of significance such as IDAHOBIT • collection and promotion of LGBTIQ-specific resources such as library book lists. The key principles on which engagement has proceeded are to: • create safe spaces for people to form and celebrate community • resist replication of inner-city culture and allow the local LGBTIQ community to define itself and determine how it will be at home in the metropolitan fringe • actively listen and always ask who we’re not hearing from • resist stereotyping, look for diversity and remember that no one represents everyone. Built on collaboration across council departments, Wyndham Rainbow Neighbours and other community organisations, the well-attended, vibrant and distinctly locally-flavoured Park Lounge represented the culmination of this approach. In 2017, the council will continue to expand the scope of its engagement with LGBTIQ communities across different departments and programs in order to keep developing inclusive events and services.
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IDAHOBIT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) IDAHOBIT was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people internationally. In under a decade, May 17 has established itself as the single most important date for LGBTIQ communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale. The Day represents an annual landmark to draw the attention of decision makers, the media, the public, opinion leaders and local authorities to the alarming situation faced by lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people and all those who do not conform to majority sexual and gender norms. The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisationâ€™s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
IDAHOBIT with a Trans Panel – City of Yarra On Tuesday 17 May 2016, Yarra City Council celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). This was the second year that the council participated in IDAHOBIT and undertook a number of different activities to celebrate the day. Key elements included raising the rainbow flag at Richmond Town Hall, and temporary lock screens on everyone’s PC with a message celebrating diversity and promoting our event, a lunchtime panel for staff entitled Understanding Trans. The event was organised by the council’s LGBTIQ Working Group, a cross council working group comprising LGBTIQ officers and their allies. We felt there was a big gap in knowledge around trans issues, so we decided that would be our focus. In the lead up to the event, the Working Group got together to discuss the overall aim of the event, and allocated tasks to Working Group members to ensure the aim was achieved. Understanding Trans featured a panel of three guests from the trans community – Aram Hosie from cohealth, Jeremy Wiggins from the Victorian AIDS Council, and Eleanor McMurtry from Minus18 – sharing their personal perspectives. Yarra’s CEO Vijaya Vaidyanath was the Master of Ceremonies at the event, and our Mayor, Cr Roberto Colanzi also spoke. The event was held at the Richmond Town Hall as it was considered this venue would attract more attendees. The rainbow flag was raised and engaging speakers addressed the gathering (despite some delays and cancellations along the way). The speakers shared some truly remarkable insights, with a very appreciative audience, into the social and legal challenges facing our trans communities. Despite similarities, each speaker had very different stories and insights to share. The event was acknowledged as a valuable learning opportunity, with the Mayor acknowledging the officers involved at that evening’s council meeting. This piece of feedback sums it up perfectly: “Brilliantly organised, excellent speakers. All who came left better for it.” Council plans bigger and better IDAHOBIT celebrations in future.
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IDAHOBIT with the Traders Association – Banyule City Council On 17 May 2016, Banyule City Council partnered with the Montmorency Traders Association to host an event for International Day Against Homophobia Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) for our LGBTIQ community and allies. Building on successful IDAHOBIT events held in 2014 and 2015, where Banyule hosted cocktail parties in The Centre Ivanhoe, for the 2016 event we wanted to reach people who do not normally go along to council events. We felt that partnering with a traders’ association and hosting the event in a shopping strip was the best way to do this. Council approached all of the traders’ associations throughout Banyule to consider hosting the 2016 IDAHOBIT event in their shopping centres. There was a reluctance from some traders’ associations to take on the event and this was for a variety of reasons, including limited capacity to program an additional event into their existing calendars. The Montmorency Traders Association (MTA) proved to be the most interested and most prepared to host the event. The Centre Manager and President of the MTA both strongly believed in the importance of promoting and celebrating diversity. Their enthusiasm was crucial to building support for the event amongst the Traders and explaining how the event fitted with the character of the Montmorency shopping village. As a result, there was no opposition from any of the Traders along Were St in Montmorency.
Bringing the traders together A working group comprising representatives from the council and MTA was formed in late 2015. Many traders got involved by offering to contribute prizes, food, flowers and decorations and many others also helped to advertise the event in their shop windows. Three local businesses offered to host the event within their premises: Max’s Burger Bar, Grape and Hop Wine Bar and Mudd Café. As luck had it, these three businesses were located next to each other so the decision was made to run the event across the three venues.
Getting all the permits in place One challenge we faced was that the main venue where the stage and entertainment were planned to be had a permit which only allowed for 42 people seated and we were anticipating an audience of up to 150. The permit also did not allow for live music. We engaged the council’s planning department who assisted in temporarily varying the permit to allow an increased number of patrons in the venue and live music. We also applied to Local Laws for a permit to set up a marquee on the footpath outside the venues. Both these permit processes took less than two weeks however it is recommended to make the application as early as possible.
A strong turnout Overall the event was hugely successful with great entertainment from comedian Tom Ballard and folk duo Bluehouse. We surpassed the target of 150 guests, many of whom had never been to a council event before. Most importantly, feedback from attendees highlighted the strong sense of local community at the event.
What they said “It was perfect! The honesty and authenticity was heartwarming and the sense of community amazing.” “The traders and community support was excellent, the quality of entertainment was excellent.” “It was all fantastic and great to have such an event in the local community.” 47
Show Your Pride at Midsumma Midsumma, Melbourneâ€™s annual LGBTIQ celebration, is a federation of arts and cultural events spread over 85 different venues throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. The festival is presented over three weeks from mid-January to February and is a significant attraction on the Melbourne festival calendar. The festival program is made up of a wide range of events and activities including visual art, theatre, spoken word, cabaret, film, live music, parties, sport, social events and public forums.
Carnival Carnival is supported by the City of Melbourne, annually draws in approximately 100,000 people, and has become the traditional opening day event. Councils can hold a stall at the Carnival. Registrations are open from July to October.
Pride March Pride March is supported by the City of Port Phillip and annually brings throngs of people onto the streets of St Kilda. All councils are welcome to dress their brightest, let their flag fly high and take to Fitzroy St to show their pride to the world. Registrations are open from August to January.
Event registrations Do you have a social event, forum or an exhibition to show? Councils can register events for Midsumma to promote their event to the estimated 200,000 festival goers throughout the three week festival. Registrations are open from August to September.
Show us your pride Councils can light council-owned buildings in rainbow colours during the festival. This has the ability to reach out to thousands of people with a message of pride for the LGBTIQ community.
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Pride March â€“ City of Port Phillip The City of Port Phillip (CoPP) has supported Pride March for all of its 21-year history. Pride March officially became part of the Midsumma Festival in July 2014. Since then, COPP funding increased by more than 150% to fund Midsumma Festival with $50,000 plus in-kind support of up to $10,000. The 29th Midsumma Festival in 2016 had 28 events taking place in the City of Port Phillip. Including two major events, the inaugural 2016 National Water Polo League Pride Cup and, of course, Pride March. Other venues included The Greyhound Hotel, Alex Theatres and a bumper festival hub at Gasworks Arts Park. Pride March recognises and celebrates Victoriaâ€™s diverse gender and sexuality communities, while continuing the road we travel on this journey to equality. 2016 was the 21st Pride March and it had participation from over 4,000 people representing more than 100 groups. Approximately 40,000 people turned out to cheer on the parade and enjoy the post-parade activities, including live music, at Catani Gardens. CoPP has also had a GLBTI working group for many years, made up of staff. In 2015 this group formed Pride Squad with the whole of the staff and friends community at CoPP to encourage participation in Pride March and promote the theme of marriage equality. This group has over 100 members. The CoPP provides a range of services and advice to assist its communities, inclusive of diverse gender and sexuality. The council also works hard to ensure our community is inclusive and has a commitment to the promotion of a fair, just, and inclusive community. CoPP was one of the first organisations to be awarded the Rainbow Tick for services provided by our Access and Ageing Department for ensuring our services create an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment.
Older LGBTIQ People Councils often provide or are a first point-of-call for a range of aged care services, notably home and community care (HACC) services, and are actively engaged in planning for positive ageing. When undertaking this planning or providing these services, it is important that the specific needs of older LGBTIQ people be considered.37 However, a recent review has shown that only 35% of Victorian HACC agencies have LGBTIQ strategies in their diversity policies.38 Older LGBTIQ people grew up knowing they could be imprisoned or forced to undergo medical ‘cures’ if their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status was known. A lifetime experience of oppression and needing to pretend to not be LGBTIQ for their own security has meant many older LGBTIQ people do not feel safe disclosing their identity to service providers when they need to access services. This is particularly so in rural areas where workers are more likely to be related or known to a client, making disclosure less likely. While approximately 11% of local populations may be LGBTIQ, they may prefer to remain invisible, losing the opportunity to have their needs articulated and met. This can cause a greater sense of isolation, and can lead to depression, stress and unmet care needs. Due to many factors, it is less likely that older LGBTIQ people will actively come forward or disclose their LGBTIQ identity. Some LGBTIQ people accessing HACC services develop elaborate strategies to manage their privacy. This may involve hiding personal material, such as photographs and cards, in their homes before carers visit. It may mean a refusal to talk about the past or about family connections, or even about what they did at the weekend. Councils which provide seniors in • Determine the needs of older people the community with social and support through extensive consultation services need to be aware that some LGBTIQ clients may hide or ‘closet’ their sexual • Audit services to clarify existing practices, orientation, gender identity or intersex status, identify service gaps and implement believing they need to do this to be safe. modifications Creating an environment that is inclusive and • Develop a Statement of Commitment for welcoming of older LGBTIQ people is therefore important if their needs are to be considered. Aged Services
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Others may be ‘out’ but have low expectations of accessing positive support through councils, fearing that council workers will not be well-informed or trained to meet their needs. They may be reticent to engage in group programs because of concerns about discrimination from other clients also accessing the service and the ability of staff to manage this. This is why there are increasing requirements for HACC services to consider people who may be experiencing barriers to accessing services, including older LGBTIQ people. Councils can play a key role in responding to these needs by making their aged services more accessible and responsive to older LGBTIQ people living within their municipality.
• Undertake training provided through Transgender Victoria or ACON to provide staff knowledge of older LGBTIQ people and their needs • Promote aged services to the LGBTIQ community in LGBTIQ media and local papers • Subscribe to Val’s Café news and updates (Val’s Café was established in 2009, as a project seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of older LGBTIQ people. It is part of GLHV@ARCSHS) • Evaluate this work through activities like surveys.
37 Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth) s 11.3(h). 38 HDG Consulting Group, HACC Diversity Planning and Practice Implementation Review Project (May 2015).
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Engagement with LGBTIQ Seniors – City of Darebin Darebin Aged and Disability Department’s earliest initiative to become more inclusive of older residents living in Darebin who identify as LGBTIQ was to enrol in the How2 program in 2012, notably as a way of understanding the history of the LGBTIQ community. Since then, the Aged and Disability Department has engaged the Darebin LGBTIQ community through a number of initiatives, using a community development framework and seeking regular input and assistance from the council’s LGBTIQ advisory committee – the Sexuality, Sex and Gender Diversity Advisory Committee (SSGDAC). The SSGDAC has provided us with important feedback before embarking on new community projects that have either formed part of the Darebin Seniors’ month of events (part of the annual Victorian Seniors Festival) or part of our community development work. In 2013, we approached the SSGDAC to help us identify an appropriate movie that could be screened as part of the seniors’ festival. Members of the SSGDAC were invited to launch this event at the Westgarth Theatre in October 2013. This was the first time there was an explicit recognition of our older LGBTIQ community members as part of the broader category of “Darebin seniors”. The screening of Cloudburst generated significant interest and attracted up to 80 participants including many members of the LGBTIQ community across the ages. We used the screening to launch a council-wide project gathering pictures of residents (and staff) willing to show their support for our LGBTIQ residents by having their photo taken for a “Darebin’s coming out” banner that the council would use at Pride March from then on. Since this first occurrence, we have made sure there is space and recognition for our LGBTIQ seniors as part of our seniors’ month. Other events identified and led by the SSGDAC that have been part of the Darebin Seniors Festival have included Games and Social Afternoons for Older Lesbians in October 2015 and this year, support to events organised by Matrix Guild in our municipality, as well as an upcoming exhibition of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archive’s An Unfinished Journey: Law and Justice for LGBTIQ People in Victoria 1835 – 2016 as part of the 2016 Darebin Seniors Festival. As the Community Development team in the Aged and Disability Department, we regularly seek input into the planning and development of activities. On occasions, in the early part of developing relationships with members of the SSGDAC, smaller working groups were initiated to provide greater reflective time for staff and members of the advisory committee to brainstorm and plan for events. The Older and Active in Darebin guide provides a resource highlighting information, activities and organisations of interest to older people living in Darebin. These include Aboriginal activities and organisations and information relating to the arts; fitness and health; gardens, food and environment; getting around Darebin; Lifelong learning and resources; Seniors Rights, volunteering; information concessions and advocacy, social groups and clubs for older people and support to live at home and in your community. In our new edition (2015-2017), a number of social groups have been included that pertain to the LGBTIQ community. Their inclusion was the result of conversations and meetings we had with these organisations / groups and our gradually developing links and connections with them. Through our community development roles, a number of new links have been established with LGBTIQ communities through support/social groups including: Over the Road; Matrix Guild; Out and About; Transgender Victoria and Victorian Aids Council. 51
Rainbow Families Families come in all shapes and sizes, including LGBTIQ-parented families. Children may have two mums or two dads, or more than two parents caring for them. Some sole parents are LGBTIQ. Some families may include known donors or surrogates, and some may be created through fostering or adoption. Children with LGBTIQ parents have always existed, but in recent times these ‘rainbow families’ have increased in number and visibility and their children are now attending early childhood services in greater numbers. LGBTIQ parents or prospective parents tend to self-select or shop around to find service providers with a reputation for supporting their families and understanding their needs. As providers of services to families and children, councils take this diversity into account in order to respond positively to the needs of these families. They are then in a position to deliver fully inclusive services ensuring all parents and children are able to attend services that are welcoming, supportive and informed.
Working with rainbow families Given the diverse nature of rainbow families, it is generally best to create opportunities for parents and children to describe their family to you. This can be done easily and simply with some door opening questions: ‘Can you tell me about your family?’ ‘Who is involved in the care of your child?’ ‘What does your child call you and your partner?’ It is not uncommon for other children to ask questions about another child who has two mums or two dads. This can be managed with simple age-appropriate answers and does not need to involve any discussions of sexuality: ‘All families are different.’ ‘Families come in all shapes and sizes.’ ‘Some children have two mums and no dad.’ Most rainbow families do not distinguish between the biological and non-biological parent, so service providers should not either. When in doubt about what to call a parent or guardian, just ask. It is important to remember that some rainbow families may not be out or open with everyone about their family structure. It is best to clarify this with each family. 52
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IDEAS AND ACTIONS There are many simple, effective ways to make council childcare services welcoming to rainbow families. 1. At the first appointment, at enrolment, or when putting their child’s name on the waiting list, ask the parents or guardians questions like: • “Who are the members of your family?” • “Whom should we mention when talking to your child about their family?” • “What names or terms does your child use in talking about their family?” 2. Ensure childcare centre enrolment forms, permission slips, medical forms and so on use inclusive language such as “parent(s) or guardian(s)” instead or “mother” and “father” and options for “other” where gender is asked. Refer to guidance provided on page 19. 3. Put up the “Who is in your family?” posters in the entrance hall, children’s rooms, consulting rooms and office spaces. 4. Include books that reflect family diversity in the library, and encourage children and their families to bring in books they read at home. Include inclusive songs and games in play sessions. 5. When parents or guardians drop off or pick up their children, refer to them the same way the child does. In particular, service providers need to be mindful of correct pronoun use when working with transgender parents (refer to page 15). 6. Ask the parents or guardians how they would like to handle questions from other children about their family, e.g. why their child has two mothers or two fathers or one parent. 7. Respond to stereotypes or attitudes that are heterosexist or homophobic, biphobic, transphobic or intersexphobic in the same way you would respond to racism, sexism or discrimination against people with disabilities. Heterosexism is the assumption that only heterosexuality is “normal” and right. Homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and intersexphobia are fear or hostility to people who identify, or are perceived, as gay or lesbian, bisexual, trans or intersex. 8. Include images and stories of rainbow families when producing newsletters and other resources. 9. Promote the organisation and/or service in the LGBTIQ community. 10. Allow time for self-reflection in a supportive team setting for staff working with rainbow families. 53
Rainbow Families Playgroup – Nillumbik Shire Council In 2015, the council’s Family Support and Participation Resource Officer met with two mothers who identified as lesbian. One of the mothers stated her frustration at their family having been provided with a ‘father’s pack’ from Nillumbik Shire Council as this did not adequately meet their needs as a family. From this discussion, the Resource Officer worked towards establishing a ‘Rainbow Families’ playgroup in order to create a space in which rainbow families could come together to talk about their parenting or family needs and simply enjoy social connectedness. We advertised and contacted rainbow families we knew in the area. Nine families responded, four families attended every week, however all were in contact with each other via email. Timing was a challenge as the playgroup was only offered in the afternoon which meant it clashed with children’s naps. In addition, many parents returned to work which made it harder to maintain the regular weekly meet up. The playgroup has since become independent of the council as the members have each other’s contact details and, as far as we are aware, the families stayed in touch via email and arranged weekend meet ups that included partners. This has been a great opportunity for playgroup members to build friendships and a support network. Other improvements were made in family support and participation. We are currently working to review and redesign our parent packs to ensure the language is inclusive. Rainbow Families posters are now being displayed in some of the foyers and meeting areas where community members come together.
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Multicultural LGBTIQ People All people are multi-dimensional and multi-faceted. The nexus of cultural identity and sexual orientation, intersex status and gender identity is often unexplored. Many cultural communities, especially their elders, find conversations about LGBTIQ issues challenging and even taboo. People who identify as both LGBTIQ and culturally diverse may face additional challenges in coming out to their communities due to a lack of awareness, language and understanding. The animation In My Shoes from the Centre for Multicultural Youth offers a good insight into the issues that arise when sexuality, culture and generations collide. Aboriginal people who are LGBTIQ face additional hurdles as their multifaceted identity is rarely acknowledged or considered by mainstream services and organisations such as councils. More information on how local government can engage with Aboriginal communities is available on the Maggolee website. To serve their community in its full diversity, councils need to be aware of these connections between sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status and culture. However, there are challenges about where to start and how to introduce LGBTIQ inclusiveness when there are cultural barriers.
IDEAS AND ACTIONS • Do not wait for multicultural communities to come to the council on LGBTIQ inclusiveness; take a proactive approach and make contact with culturally-sensitive advocacy and support groups in the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council Directory • Include translations on information that is targeted to LGBTIQ people or their families, such as posters or guides, recognising that for some of these people English is not their first language • Develop a range of culturally appropriate LGBTIQ inclusivity messages
Considering Intersections of Sexuality, Gender Identity, Culture & Faith – City of Darebin People are not uni-dimensional and there are many facets to any one of us. The connections between different aspects of diversity, namely sexuality, gender identity, culture and faith, are often little explored. Everyone has a cultural background, in the same way as everyone has a sexuality and gender. However, too often, when we think of LGBTIQ people, we picture them as white/Anglo-Celtic, which is not the full picture of LGBTIQ communities. Multicultural (notably young) people who identify as LGBTIQ may face additional challenges to openly come out in their communities (and this idea of “coming out” itself might not be culturally appropriate for them, as they might prefer the idea of ‘coming home’ or ‘inviting people in’.39 Issues might be different for LGBTIQ Indigenous people, but they also are often little acknowledged or taken into account by mainstream services and organisations such as councils. In Darebin, we want to acknowledge these complexities and the diversity within our LGBTIQ residents and help our community recognise and explore this. One way we went about this was to bring the question of sexuality and gender identity into a Darebin space initially dedicated to cultural issues. The council-run Darebin Intercultural Centre is a dedicated space for intercultural development, dialogue, engagement, participation and celebration. The Centre hosts a number of events each month. As a way to raise awareness of sexuality and gender diversity within various cultures and faiths, we decided to make sure we would organise community events at the Intercultural Centre to celebrate IDAHOBIT, bringing this date, its meaning and the communities it recognises to the attention of the groups from various cultures that use the centre.
IDAHOBIT 2014 For IDAHOBIT 2014, the Intercultural Centre held a community conversation on “Sexuality, culture and identity: exploring the connections”. It started with the screening of the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s In my shoes animation movie, which offers a good insight into some of the issues when sexuality, culture and generations collide. We then heard from inspiring speaker Alyena Mohummadally who spoke about her journey as a queer Muslim Pakistani Australian. The community conversations that followed highlighted the extra layer of taboo often added by culture and the play off between being out or saving face and remaining part of a specific cultural community.
IDAHOBIT 2015 For IDAHOBIT 2015, the Intercultural Centre organised a panel discussion on the intersections of faith and sexuality and gender diversity, featuring sociologist Luke Gahan (La Trobe University), Sally Goldner (Transgender Victoria), Rev. Peter Batten (Uniting Church Northcote), Pastor Becky Bauer (Acts2Faith Church, Northcote) and Nur (Marhaba Melbourne). The panel explored how religious individuals and communities (in this instance, the three Abrahamic faiths) can retain faith and embrace sexuality and gender diversity; how faith communities might play a role in promoting the inclusion of LGBTIQ people and whether the principles of interfaith and intercultural dialogue can extend to LGBTIQ communities.
39 Carolyn Poljaski, Coming Out, Coming Home or Inviting People In?: Supporting same-sex attracted women from immigrant and refugee communities (Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, 2011).
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IDAHOBIT 2016 In 2016, following a rainbow flag-raising ceremony in front of the Town Hall, the Intercultural Centre saw Monique Hameed from Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH) talk about her work with young same-sex attracted women from refugee and immigrant communities. With Monique, the audience explored the complexities of the intersections between culture and sexuality/gender identity – fostering community conversation around the challenges (and double discrimination through homophobia and racism) faced by LGBTIQ people from CALD communities. Another way the Intercultural centre has played a role in raising awareness of sexuality and gender diversity among CALD communities has been through promotion of the council’s LGBTIQ-inclusive work as part of other events we are organising. As an example, in January 2016, the Centre held a Scottish cultural night to honour Robert Burns, a poet and lyricist widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. While community members came to listen to poetry and learn about Scottish history, culture and dance, the MC utilised this opportunity to promote the upcoming Pride March and encourage the audience to join the council in marching under the ‘Darebin’s Coming Out’ banner, as well as to speak of Darebin’s support for marriage equality and of the positive contribution Darebin’s LGBTIQ community make to our city. These are just some of the ways Darebin demonstrates our commitment to all of our LGBTIQ residents, whichever their culture or faith.
Using a Sister-city Relationship to Advance LGBTIQ Issues Abroad – City of Melbourne The City of Melbourne has enjoyed a mutually beneficial sister-city relationship with St Petersburg since 1989, the only one between an Australian and a Russian city. Following anti-’gay propaganda’ laws imposed in St Petersburg in 2013 which sparked widespread condemnation, City of Melbourne received a petition signed by over 14,000 people to suspend the relationship. In light of the laws and subsequent petition, the pressure on councillors to suspend the sister city relationship was significant. Activists in St Petersburg, however, urged the council to use the relationship to raise awareness on the issue and keep advocating for change through diplomatic channels and by other means. Council therefore resolved to keep the relationship, while also condemning Government-sanctioned violence against LGBTIQ St Petersburg citizens and looking for ways to keep the issue prominent in public debate. Since 2014, St Petersburg cultural exchanges and events which mention the sister-city relationship have had a LGBTIQ focus. In 2016, an approach was made to Midsumma Festival Inc. to develop a creative concept linking Melbourne, their sister city St Petersburg and LGBTIQ communities in both cities, thus providing an opportunity for Melbourne to support our LGBTIQ community as well as the LGBTIQ community in St Petersburg. A number of potential creative projects and events to address these themes were examined. City of Melbourne, together with Midsumma, determined a panel style workshop would be most suitable. An evening of discussion into the issues affecting the LGBTIQ community in St Petersburg and around the world was delivered by City of Melbourne on 11 May 2016, in partnership with Midsumma, to address the impacts of so-called ‘gay propaganda’ laws in Russia and exploring how beliefs in equality and communal activism can be a catalyst for change. The panel style discussion addressed questions around what has occurred in recent years, the impact on LBGTIQ communities, homophobia as a world issue, what’s occurring in other countries and how Australia has reached out to LGBTIQ communities here and overseas. Panelists included: Anna Brown (chair of Human Rights Committee of the Law Institute of Victoria and former Co-Convener of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby); Dennis Altman (author and academic); Sally Goldner (Executive Director of Transgender Victoria); and Nur Warsame (Imam and convener of Marhaba, a social support group that focuses on the welfare of LGBTIQ Muslims). Opening the event, City of Melbourne Councillor Rohan Leppert said:
“The City of Melbourne worked with Midsumma Festival to deliver this event to demonstrate leadership on a human rights issue and to show that we support the LGBTIQ community both here and in our sister city, St Petersburg. We believe it is important – as a sister city but also regardless of that status – to have meaningful dialogue on such important human rights issues.” Well attended, with over 80 guests, the discussions from the night were recorded by JOY 94.9 Radio to appear on air and in segments over the following 12 months, providing longevity to the event. This event demonstrates City of Melbourne’s commitment to supporting the LGBTIQ community and working with all of its international partners, including St Petersburg, to achieve a global community that supports equal rights for all citizens.
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Outing Disability – Maribyrnong City Council As part of Midsumma Festival celebrations, the Diversity team from Maribyrnong City Council supported a number of activities that promoted the rights of the LGBTIQ community to participate in all manners of civic life. The Diversity Team sits within the Positive Ageing and Inclusion Department within the council and is responsible for the development and implementation of whole-of-council multicultural, Indigenous and disability policies and action plan as well as a strong community development focus. Council has participated in Midsumma since 2010 through a variety of projects and events right across the council. One example of the work undertaken during Midsumma was Outing Disability. Midsumma is a time to celebrate, but it is also a time to challenge preconceived notions, and Outing Disability invited community members on a reflective journey into the lives of LGBTIQ people with disability. Council partnered with Family Planning NSW for the project, which is a highly praised photographic exhibition developed in partnership with internationally acclaimed photographer Belinda Mason. Council’s MetroAccess Officer had viewed the photographer’s other works in the past and felt the exhibition would complement other projects currently being undertaken in the MetroAccess role, including a peer led relationships and sexuality program for people with disability. Council’s Disability Advisory Committee were consulted and invited as key guests to the event. Each portrait in the exhibition provided a rare insight into the hopes and dreams of 23 unique people as they shared their struggles and triumphs of coming out, exploring identity, discovering love and finding pride. The captivating series of portraits, which are made out of large scale mirrored Perspex panels, were displayed at Footscray Library for two weeks throughout January and February 2016. By placing the exhibition in such a high traffic area, a large number of community members were able to view and take note of the exhibition and the key messages it was striving to deliver. Real estate boards with prints from the exhibition were also displayed at the Substation in Newport during Midsumma. The exhibition toured throughout NSW, where it and the subjects in the exhibition reside. In addition to the exhibition, the project included a conversation and Q&A session in the exhibition space. The Mayor opened the conversation with a speech on the importance of inclusion and celebrating during Midsumma. The conversation was hosted by the council’s MetroAccess Officer and guests included Margherita Coppolino, a local photographer, and Steve Konstantopoulos, a NSW-based participant in the photographic project. Both spoke on a range of topics including the spectrum of sexuality, labelling, coming out and community acceptance. The conversation provided an engaging profile of two diverse people with strong opinions on sexuality and disability. The audience participated enthusiastically by asking questions and contributing significantly to the conversation. Many attendees stayed after the event to continue the conversation. Significant evaluation of the project was undertaken with positive results. The most significant acknowledgment of the project was that the audience was made up of a range of disability professionals, health care professionals and local community members from the LGBTIQ community. This opened the dialogue of people with disability being a part of the LGBTIQ scene within the City of Maribyrnong. Council has a commitment to continuing to produce and promote excellent inclusive events, services and programs for all community members into the future.
Establishing an LGBTIQ Youth Group – City of Greater Geelong Geelong City Council’s Gender And Sexuality Project (GASP) is an example of local government going ‘all out’ to support LGBTIQ young people. The GASP project was formed in 1996 when a volunteer youth worker advocating on behalf of a number of young people said they needed a safe place to meet other LGBTIQ young people. A key element for the success and development of the GASP project has been the vision shared by the many youth workers who have led the project. This vision has always included: • social and individual support for young people • training and education for schools and organisations • a Geelong community where LGBTIQ young people belong, are safe and connected. The City of Greater Geelong’s support for the project has built up gradually over the past 20 years with the project given a major boost in 2010 thanks to significant funding from the State Government over three and a half years for a pilot program to prevent youth suicide, the GASP Youth Suicide Prevention project. This enabled the project to employ two full time workers and build a team including: • a team leader who is responsible for training and education, capacity building and strategic development • a full time counsellor providing individual support • two part time workers: one working on the GASP social and support group and the other member working with schools. As a result of the success of the program, when the funding was nearing its conclusion, the City’s GASP team knew there was still a lot of work to be done in our community and that more funding for the program was needed. The team submitted a budget bid to the council, and with the support of the then Youth Portfolio councillor and senior management team, GASP succeeded in securing recurrent funding to ensure the project could continue. To our knowledge this is a first for any local government to make this sort of commitment to the LGBTIQ young people in their community. Each year our GASP team works directly with more than 250 LGBTIQ young people in our region. Our program incorporates a number of regular support groups, including a: • GASP Youth Action Team • weekly social and support group • fortnightly trans and gender diverse group • youth-led advocacy groups called Stand Outs in 10 schools across our municipality • support group for parents and friends with LGBTIQ people in their lives • ongoing individual support and counselling for young people and families and carers. The project also partners with service providers to deliver training to ensure safe and inclusive health care, and has done some significant work in creating a health care pathway for trans and gender diverse young people.
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Establishing an LGBTIQ Youth Group â€“ Wyndham City Council In 2011, Wyndham City Youth Services had a conversation within our team and realised that there was no support program for same sex attracted and gender diverse young people. In term 4 in 2011, we convened an advisory committee of seven LGBTIQ young people that helped give the development of the program its name and image and identified the need to provide a safe space for LGBTIQ young people. The committee kept the program private and confidential by advertising it, but not the times, dates and location of meetings. In 2012, the Q Program began. We promoted the program to schools and service providers, and attended LGBTIQ youth events to further promote the program. We created an annual event as part of Midsumma, working in partnerships with other councilsâ€™ LGBTIQ youth groups, to build relationships and connectedness. We built a relationship with the local Werribee headspace through once a month a visits with a regular consistent worker, through this we were able to develop further mental health support and referrals between Q Program and Headspace. Slowly the number of young people attending Q Program started to rise, creating more demand. In response to this demand, Q Program went from meeting fortnightly to weekly. The higher mental health needs of LGBTIQ young people meant that linking Q Program members into further supports was not always easy. The need to bring in LGBTIQ youth-related service providers became key in order to build trust and understanding and most importantly a sense of connection. Through this, the number of young people participating weekly catch ups through the Q Program rose over time.
LGBTIQ Youth Projects – City of Whittlesea In 2015, City of Whittlesea Youth Services and their Rainbow Program for LGBTIQ young people recruited 20 young people to create a short film and training package tackling homophobia and transphobia in the City of Whittlesea, ‘The Rainbow Project’. The project involved weekly workshops in film making, make up, acting, script writing and leadership. Youth Services collaborated with local police and local schools throughout the project to identify opportunities for training and discuss the most appropriate year levels to target. The project connected young people with a film company who provided regular input around script writing workshops and the filming process. The young people involved received valuable feedback on their work from Youth Services staff and from a visiting Safe Schools Coalition staff member. They have had opportunities to present their film to the councillors, council officers and local young people. The project has had a significant impact on the young people’s mental wellbeing and social connectedness. The young people had the opportunity to form positive relationships with the workers and each other in a safe and supportive environment. This allowed them to discuss issues that may be affecting them, and provide support to each other. The young people now have a positive link to a local service and can have ongoing support and access to referrals to mental health agencies. Knowledge of such services is a strong protective factor for these young people. One of the key challenges for the project was its promotion. The young people targeted for this project are amongst our most marginalised and vulnerable young people. Promoting in the community and gaining parental consent for participation had to be done in a sensitive way. Young people were not asked to disclose their sexuality. The promotion and engagement material read ‘if you are LGBTIQ or supporting friends or family come along to the Rainbow Project.’ Relationships between Youth Services and local schools have been developed which is a great way to help break down these barriers. Through this, Youth Services and Rainbow 62
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Program participants were able to promote the project to local schools and engage other LGBTIQ young people. Consistency of attendance was another area of difficulty for this group of young people. Many of them are struggling with mental health, bullying and other significant issues in their lives. This affected their ability to participate in the work and meant that some of them needed to take time away from the project. We tried to address these difficulties by having an open discussion prior to breaking into small groups to work on the project. This provided everyone with the opportunity to share their experiences and learn from each other. These discussions also helped reinforce the timeliness of the project and the importance of the short film. Nevertheless, participants did drop off along the way as young people have busy lives due to school studies or other commitments. The project is ongoing and young people are still attending, meeting weekly, and now working on public speaking and building up their confidence in presenting. As a result of the project, this group of young people have created a resource to be proud of and are working on engagement activities they can add to it.
LGBTIQ Youth Projects – Maroondah City Council Over the past two to three years Maroondah has done significant work increasing the inclusiveness of council services and operations for LGBTIQ community members and staff. Council acknowledges the challenges that can be faced by those who identify as LGBTIQ, and commits to providing excellent service to our LGBTIQ community. Maroondah City Council was pleased to be named the winner of the VLGA and YACVic READYS (Recognising Excellence Awards for Delivering Youth Services) in October 2015 for our Start the Conversation project. Funded via a HEY (Healthy Equal Youth) Grant, this project promoted social justice for LGBTIQ young people in Maroondah through literally ‘starting the conversation’ about homophobia and transphobia within the community. The project: • established a youth steering committee, which consulted over 100 young people about their attitudes, opinions and experiences of homophobia and transphobia • developed a resource promoting positive images of LGBTIQ young people in Maroondah • delivered education sessions to over 40 professionals and 200 young people. We are now in the process of developing our second HEY Grant project, called Equal Sports, whereby we will work with local young people and local and renowned sportspeople to develop a video to tackle homophobia in sport. Maroondah City Council is proud of the work we have done recently to become a more inclusive organisation and municipality. We acknowledge that there is still considerable work to be done in local government to eliminate discrimination of LGBTIQ people. We are happy to share our story to help others along that journey.
Out on the Fields – Yarra Ranges Council Pride Cup is a unique event. Very few sports locally, nationally and internationally have tackled homophobia in sport, yet a little country football netball club in Yarra Glen took on the challenge with gusto. Out on the Fields, a recent global study of homophobia in sport revealed that 87% of gay athletes in Australia feel they need to hide their sexuality from their club. In response, Yarra Glen Football Netball Club launched the inaugural Pride Cup in 2014. Recognising that the Pride Cup presented a unique opportunity for the council to advance the social justice movement for LGBTIQ people in football and netball in Yarra Ranges in 2015, the council initiated and led the development of the Pride Cup working group, working closely with gay footballer Jason Ball to strategically engage local and state partners, selected for their ability to shape, influence and advocate for Pride Cup including local sporting clubs and leagues, the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, mental health support services, LGBTIQ community organisations, and sporting codes. Further to the core working group the project engaged staff from across the council including Built and Active Spaces, Economic Youth and Community Development, Arts Culture and Heritage, Parks and Bushlands and Infrastructure Services. More recently, a separate working group was established to focus exclusively on education. Pride Cup education is designed to meet the needs of the target group by supporting cultural changes in clubs. The educational components include education for players, a luncheon with keynote speakers and a forum aimed to educate broader club members. In terms of timelines, in 2015 we started planning 6 months before the event. Since embarking on Pride Cup, those involved have applied a process of continuous improvement and therefore the project has continued to evolve and streamline its process and still continues today. Given the enormity of the event and the large number of stakeholders, detailed coordination and clear communication was an ongoing challenge requiring a vigilant Project Officer and evidence from post-event evaluations suggests it was the Project Officer who ensured these challenges were met. The council officer working on Pride Cup is employed as a Recreation Inclusion Officer who is responsible for working to increase the participation of all under represented people in sport and recreation, not just LGBTIQ people. Competing objectives mean that stakeholders don’t always share the same expectations for Pride Cup and it is nurturing stakeholder relationships that support a pathway forward – a key role for the Recreation Inclusion Officer and a reason for the developed working groups and planning. Pride Cup now an annual event in its third year, which includes a football and netball game alongside educational events targeted at all levels of the game. Its vision is to make sport more inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTIQ community. Pride Cup is inspiring a cultural transformation across sport and recreation for LGBTIQ people by making sport more welcoming and inclusive. While the project’s aim was to develop welcoming and inclusive clubs in the region, the project simultaneously advocated to community and national sport the importance of developing inclusive sporting environments. Pride Cup is gathering interest; the broader community are taking notice. Matt Finnis, St Kilda Football Club CEO, has openly stated that his inspiration and initiation for the AFL Pride Game can be credited to the work of the Yarra Glen Pride Cup. Pride Cup’s successful campaign has been rewarded by winning the VicHealth, Building Health Through Sport Award and the Parks and Leisure Australia (VicTas) Inclusive and Connected Communities Award. Evidence suggests Pride Cup is worth continuing as a strategy for promoting LGBTIQ inclusion in sport and it has been established that it has potential to become a sustainable event and one that can be replicated by other sporting clubs and leagues contributing to Pride Cup’s ultimate vision. 64
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CAMPAIGN RESOURCES 65
Following are two examples of how individual councillors went about getting their councils on board to support marriage equality. Even with different topics or debates, there are some useful tips here for organising campaigns.
Marriage Equality – a Councillor’s Campaign Cr Mary Delahunty, Glen Eira City Council In September 2014, Glen Eira City Council resolved to support marriage equality and advocate for it to be dealt with via a free vote in the Federal Parliament. The motion read – That the Glen Eira City Council: (i) publicly supports marriage equality irrespective of sex or gender identity, (ii) writes to local Federal Members of Parliament and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission advising them of council’s support; and (iii) writes to all political parties with representation in the Federal Parliament encouraging them to prioritise debating changes to the Marriage Act and allow a conscience vote on marriage equality. Unlike other councils, in Glen Eira we don’t have provision in the local law for a councillor to simply move a notice of motion. Discussion of the issue in the Chamber was achieved by calling for an officer’s report detailing the positions that other councils have adopted to express support for this important national issue. I drew on the examples of the City of Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast Shire as well as some interstate examples and the material of the “Mayors for Equality” campaign. Councillors faced open hostility from some religious groups who claimed we were not elected to vote on national issues without consultation. This argument was also used by some Glen Eira councillors who opposed the motion. I feel that this was a cloak for a lack of support of the underlying issue as the same argument was never mounted when we publicly denounced proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act nor indeed when we voted to lobby the State Government on changes to the legislation dealing with fire hazards and electricity lines. The opposition to the council considering this motion was somewhat confronting to me personally in its tone. It made me worry about the role of religious organisations in the lives of our young citizens and how approachable their religious leaders are. Some religious leaders staged a silent protest in the chamber on the night of the vote and I personally received some aggressive correspondence on the matter as I was the mover of the motion. I learnt how important it is that local government is involved in these conversations. If the voices of elected councillors are missing we do great injustice to many in our local area. The members of the LGBTIQ community in Glen Eira do not have as loud a voice as some of the religious leaders and so, ironically, it becomes an obligation of their elected officials to agitate for equality and social justice. I received lots of positive feedback. My favourite was a letter from an eleven year old saying thank you. That’s what it’s about – to say to the lawmakers in the federal area that this inequity hurts my friends and neighbours and we would like to see marriage equality become a priority. Please note: These are the personal views of Cr Delahunty and not those of Glen Eira City Council.
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Marriage Equality – a Councillor’s Campaign Cr Michael Schilling, Cardinia Shire Council On 20 March 2017 Cardinia Shire Council voted to take a public stance on marriage equality. The six councillors who were present voted unanimously in support of my notice of motion. Two councillors were apologies to the council meeting and one declared a conflict and excused herself from the vote. Council resolved to: • publicly support marriage equality irrespective of sex or gender identity • write to Federal Members of Parliament and the Commonwealth Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission advising them of council’s support • investigate ways as a council, we can make our community and council facilities an inclusive place for the LGBTIQ community. The vote concluded a journey which spanned over three months. I initially approached my council colleagues in December 2016, informing them of my intention to bring forward a motion in support of marriage equality. Council officers prepared a comprehensive report on the current issues facing our local LGBTIQ community. This report was presented to council in February 2017, and was a crucial step in the process. It briefed councillors on the facts, and enabled us to have an open and honest debate about the issue. In January 2017 our council had attended the Pride March for the first time, taking along some of the local young people who participate in our LGBTIQ support programs. This event, and hearing first hand about some of the struggles our young people faced highlighted the importance of my motion of support. While I was the councillor who drafted the motion, it certainly was a team effort. I was humbled by the overwhelming support shown by my council colleagues. Both council and our LGBTIQ community were incredibility proud and excited on the night to see the motion pass. The wider community in Cardinia has also been overwhelmingly supportive, with only a handful of people voicing their dissatisfaction. This motion meant a lot to many locals, who have sent myself and other councillors individual messages of thanks. I believe this motion has highlighted to the community that Cardinia Shire Council supports all residents, irrespective of who they love. Please note: These are the personal views of Cr Schilling and not those of Cardinia Shire Council.
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APPENDIX A: Annual Dates of Significance Midsumma Festival – January/February Midsumma, Melbourne’s annual queer celebration, is a federation of arts and cultural events spread over 85 different venues throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria. The festival is presented over three weeks from mid-January to February and is a significant attraction on the Melbourne festival calendar. Midsumma’s largest iconic events are Carnival and Pride March. Carnival is supported by the City of Melbourne, annually draws in approximately 100,000 people, and has become the traditional opening day event. Pride March is supported by the City of Port Phillip and annually brings throngs of people onto the streets of St Kilda. midsumma.org.au ChillOut Festival – March ChillOut is the biggest and longest-running country queer pride event in regional Australia, and the largest festival in Hepburn Shire. The festival showcases gay and lesbian arts and culture and other events in a relaxed, country setting. ChillOut’s annual Street Parade is a brash and colourful celebration of queer country pride along the main street of Daylesford. chilloutfestival.com.au Transgender Day of Visibility – March 31 Transgender Day of Visibility is dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and victories of transgender and gender non-conforming people while raising awareness of the work that is still needed to save trans lives. tdov.org Melbourne Queer Film Festival – March/April Australia’s largest and longest running queer film festival, MQFF presents more than 100 films from across the world, showcasing the best in LGBTIQ features, shows and documentaries over twelve days each March. mqff.com.au Bendigo Queer Film Festival – April One of the few regional queer film festivals in Australia, BQFF showcases queer culture and provides cultural and artistic opportunities to LGBTIQ people living in central Victoria. bendigoqueerfilmfestival.com.au International Family Equality Day – May 7 International Family Equality Day (IFED) is a worldwide celebration of LGBTIQ-parented families, acknowledging that rainbow families are a global phenomenon. Organisations can organise activities to celebrate rainbow families under the IFED banner. internationalfamilyequalityday.org
IDAHOBIT – May 17 International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) was created to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ people internationally and is the single most important date for LGBTIQ communities to mobilise on a worldwide scale. The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organisation’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. dayagainsthomophobia.org Wear It Purple Day – August 26 Wear it Purple Day seeks to raise awareness about the issues faced by LGBTIQ young people and the need to eradicate bullying based on sexuality and gender diversity by encouraging people to wear purple to work. wearitpurple.org Celebrate Bisexuality Day – September 23 Celebrate Bisexuality Day is an international awareness day that is also referred to as Bi Visibility Day or Bisexual Pride Day. Celebrate Bisexuality Day is marked with events around the world celebrating bisexual culture, community and history. bivisibilityday.com International Lesbian Day – October 8 International Lesbian Day is a day for lesbians the world over to celebrate lesbian culture. The date is believed to have been set to commemorate the anniversary of lesbian feminist Anna Rüling’s address at an International Scientific and Humanitarian Committee in 1904, when she criticised the women’s movement for not taking an active role in ending the oppression of lesbians. qahc.org.au/ild Intersex Awareness Day – October 26 Intersex Awareness Day is an internationally observed awareness day that highlights human rights issues faced by intersex people. The date marks the first public demonstration by intersex people in North America outside a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1996. intersexday.org Out in the Open Festival – November Out in the Open is Shepparton’s newest festival celebrating community diversity, and was developed to address some of the inequalities faced by the local GLBTIQ and allied communities and to build a more inclusive community in Shepparton. Out in the Open is led by Goulburn Valley Pride and is proudly supported by many other organisations and community groups. The festival consists of a Carnival Day and other events across the City of Greater Shepparton. outintheopen.org.au Intersex Day of Solidarity – November 8 Intersex Day of Solidarity is an internationally observed civil awareness day designed to highlight issues faced by intersex people. It marks the birthday of Herculine Barbin, a famous French intersex person. intersexday.org
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Transgender Day of Remembrance â€“ November 20 Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialise those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. Transgender Day of Remembrance raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, publicly mourns and honours the lives of transgender people deceased, and expresses love and respect for transgender people living. tdor.info World AIDS Day â€“ December 1 World AIDS Day raises awareness across the world and in the community about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. It is a day for people to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. worldaidsday.org.au
APPENDIX B: Glossary Language is a powerful tool and helps to shape the reality we live in. How we name things makes a difference, and we should never underestimate the underlying assumptions behind the language we use and how this can lead us to exclude people unwittingly. As the Australian Human Rights Commission states, “Terminology can have a profound impact on a person’s identify, self-worth and inherent dignity. The use of inclusive and acceptable terminology empowers individuals and enables visibility of important issues.”40 The following glossary includes terms used throughout this kit and, in addition, terms that appear in the literature on LGBTIQ-inclusive practice. It should be noted that terminology in this area is at times contested and changing and there is not always clear consensus on what terminology is most inclusive. While recognising these limitations, it is important to provide clarification around some of the terminology used. LGBTIQ people increasingly want assurances that services understand and are responsive to their needs, so it is important to understand how best to refer to LGBTIQ people. The following definitions have been drawn from GLHV’s Rainbow Tick Guide to LGBTIInclusive Practice, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby’s Guide for union and employer representatives on LGBTI issues, and the Victorian Government’s Victorian Public Sector: Inclusive Language Guide and Rainbow eQuality: LGBTI inclusive practice guide for health and community services.
Affirmed gender The gender to which a person identifies which may or may not match their assigned sex at birth. Agender A person who has no gender identity, although some define this more as having a gender identity that is neutral. Other terms (sometimes used interchangeably) are: genderblank, genderfree, genderless, gendervoid, non-gendered, null gender or neutrois. Asexual A person who does not experience sexual attraction. They may still experience feelings of affection towards another person. Biphobia Prejudice, stigma, discrimination or aversion toward bisexuality and bisexual people as a social group or as individuals. Bisexual / bi A person who is sexually and/or emotionally attracted to people of their own gender and other genders. Often this term is shortened to ‘bi’. An alternative description that may be preferred by some is pansexual. Brotherboy A term used by Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander communities to refer to an individual assigned female at birth who has a male spirit. Cis / Cisgender A person whose gender is in line with the social expectations of their sex as assigned at birth. It is a term used to describe people who are not transgender or gender diverse. Coming out The process through which a LGBTIQ person comes to recognise and acknowledge (both to self and to others) their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. Gay A person whose primary emotional and sexual attraction is toward people of the same gender as themselves. The term is most commonly applied to men who are attracted to other men, although some women use this term.
40 Australian Human Rights Commission, SOGII Rights Snapshot Report – Background Paper (2014) 2.
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Gender diverse A person who identifies as neither male nor female, or as both male and female. Some people may identify as agender (having no gender), bigender (both a woman and a man) or non-binary (neither woman nor man). There is a range of non-binary gender identities such as genderqueer, gender neutral, genderfluid and third gendered. Language in this space is evolving, and people may have their own preferred gender identities that are not listed here. Gender fluid See gender diverse. Gender identity A person’s sense of identity defined in relation to gender. For some people, their sense of gender identity can be fluid (or change) over time. Gender queer / Genderqueer / GenderQueer See definition of ‘gender diverse’. Gender questioning A person who is questioning the gender that aligns with their assigned sex at birth and may be in the process of redefining their gender. This includes those considering living as another gender and those who may wish to have no gender assigned to them at all. Heteronormativity Interpreting the world based on a belief that everyone is or should be heterosexual and cisgender e.g. expecting a person to act in a certain way based on their perceived gender or seeing heterosexual relationships as ‘normal’, therefore implying that other relationships are abnormal. Heterosexism The belief that everyone is, or should be, heterosexual and cisgender and that other sexualities and gender identities are inferior, unhealthy or unnatural. Heterosexism includes homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and a fear of intersex people who challenge the assumption that there are only two sexes. Homophobia Fear, hatred, aversion to or discrimination against people who identify as, or are perceived as, same sex attracted. Homophobia may be portrayed through hostility, abuse, discrimination and sometimes violence. Homophobia also includes institutional and cultural bias and structural inequality. Internalised biphobia The internalisation by bisexual people of negative attitudes and feelings toward bisexuality. Internalised homophobia The internalisation by same sex attracted people of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality. Internalised transphobia The internalisation by trans and gender diverse people of negative attitudes and feelings toward those not meeting society’s expectations of gender identity or expression. Intersex A term used to describe a person born with genetic, hormonal or physical sex characteristics that do not fit stereotypical norms for male or female’ bodies. Intersex is a description of biological diversity and may or may not be the identity used by an intersex person. Lesbian A woman whose primary emotional and/or sexual attraction is toward other women. LGBTIQ An internationally recognised acronym used to describe lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer/questioning people collectively. Lesbian refers to a woman who is primarily emotionally and sexually attracted to other women. Gay refers to a person who is primarily emotionally and sexually attracted to people of the same sex. The term is most commonly applied to men, although some women use this term. Bisexual refers to a person who is emotionally and sexually attracted to people of their own gender and other genders.
Trans or transgender refers to a person whose gender identity is different to that assigned at birth. Intersex refers to a person born with genetic, hormonal or physical sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. A person who is intersex may identify as male, female, intersex or as being of indeterminate sex. Queer refers to a person with an alternative sexual or gender identity. It is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to include LGBTIQ people. For some, queer has a negative connotation due to past uses of the term and historical experiences of discrimination. However, in recent years, this term has been re-appropriated by the LGBTIQ community and is now used by many in LGBTIQ communities in an empowering way. Non-binary See definition of ‘gender diverse’. Pansexual A person who is romantically and sexually attracted to people of all sexes and genders. Some people may use both bisexual and pansexual to describe themselves. Queer A person with an alternative sexual or gender identity which is not adequately described by existing labels such as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Queer is sometimes used as an umbrella term to include all LGBTIQ people. For some, especially older LGBTIQ people, ‘queer’ has negative connotations due to its historical use as a discriminatory term. However, in recent years, this term has been re-appropriated, and is now used by many in LGBTIQ communities in an empowering way. Same-sex attraction/attracted Sexual and/or emotional attraction toward people of one’s own gender; this includes people who may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer or pansexual. It can also include people who identify as heterosexual and are questioning their sexuality or don’t identify with any other labels. Some prefer the term same gender attracted. Sex A person’s biological or physical characteristics that define their male, female or intersex status. These biological attributes include chromosomes, hormones and physical anatomy. Sexuality/Sexual orientation A person’s sexual or emotional attraction to other people, and includes heterosexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual, bisexual and queer. An alternative term is sexuality. Sistergirl / Sistagirl A term used by Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander communities to refer to a transgender person assigned male at birth who has a female spirit. Trans or transgender A person whose gender identity or expression is different from that assigned at birth. Some transgender people seek surgery or take hormones to bring their body into alignment with their gender identity; many do not. Some transgender people change their gender expression to reflect their affirmed gender; many do not. Transition A process by which a trans or gender diverse person affirms their gender, which may include adopting a style and presentation of gender different to that assigned at birth, for example through a name change, change in pronouns, change in style of presentation, or medical support/intervention. Some people may do all or none of these things, for a range of reasons. A trans or gender diverse person may prefer to refer to their gender ‘affirmation’ rather than transition. Transphobia Fear or hatred of people who are, or are perceived as being, trans or gender diverse. Transphobia can be expressed through hostility, verbal and physical bullying, discrimination or violence. Transphobia also includes institutional and cultural bias and structural inequality.
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Acknowledgements This resource was developed by the Rainbow Working Group – a VLGA Sub-Committee consisting of councillors and representatives from the LGBTIQ community – and involved many hours of volunteer labour. The contributors – both agencies and councils – must also be acknowledged for providing such an extraordinary range of case studies, advice, guidance and tips. Special thanks to:
Rainbow Working Group members (this working group functioned from June 2015 to December 2016)
Local Government Victoria Commissioner for Gender & Sexuality Ro Allen Department of Premier and Cabinet – Equality Branch
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