Victorian charities band together to fight LGBTIQ+ discrimination
5 May 2021 at 4:49 pm
The group is pushing for the Victorian government to also commit to ending LGBTIQ+ inequalities
Leading Victorian charities and community organisations are uniting to end LGBTIQ+ discrimination by signing onto an equality charter advocating for stronger, safer and sustainable LGBTIQ+ communities.
The charter is an Australian first, and outlines a shared commitment by the organisations to uphold the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people, ensure LGBTIQ+ inclusive services and education, and build a sustainable community-controlled LGBTIQ+ sector.
Organisations signed onto the charter include the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People’s Alliance, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Council to Homeless Persons, Victorian Healthcare Association, Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, Mental Health Victoria, and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The move was welcomed by LGBTIQ+ groups Switchboard Victoria, and Thorne Harbour Health, with the CEO of Thorne Harbour Health, Simon Ruth, thanking the organisations for taking up their cause.
“If we’re going to see an improvement in the health and wellbeing of our communities, it’s going to require commitments from peak organisations like we’ve seen today,” Ruth said.
Switchward Victoria CEO, Joe Bell, added that it was work that must be done in partnership.
“This work must be led by us as both LGBTIQ+ people and as LGBTIQ+ organisations, but we know that we cannot do it alone,” Ball said.
The release of the charter follows La Trobe University research highlighting the disproportionately higher rates of substance misuse, family violence and homelessness among LGBTIQ+ people.
The research also found that the mental health of LGBTIQ+ people has been at crisis levels for decades with no signs of improvement, with one in 20 people reporting attempting suicide in the past year.
Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, told Pro Bono News that while the charter wasn’t the only approach needed to stamp out discrimination, it was a good starting point.
“We need a combination of approaches, including ally-ship,” Tsorbaris said.
“So we are coming together as a coalition of peaks to develop the Embracing Equality Charter.”
She said that by bringing a powerful group together, they were trying to achieve real change, quickly.
“We are trying to underscore the urgency with which we need system wide change, better health and well-being disparities and ensure that our own services are inclusive,” she said.
The groups are now urging the Victorian government to endorse and sign onto the Embracing Equality Charter, as well as a number of other commitments including developing a long-term, evidence-based plan that addresses the inequities experienced by LGBTIQ+ people.
A pledge aimed at community service providers is also set to be released in the coming weeks, in a bid to create services that are safe and culturally appropriate for the LGBTIQ+ community.
“We’re encouraging service providers to sign and embrace that pledge because this is about us gaining knowledge and learning about what we need to do to be inclusive and embrace the LGBTIQ community and show some leadership,” Tsorbaris said.
See a full copy of the charter here.