The state’s gender and sexuality commissioner was in Bendigo today, making good on a promise to check in on the community six months after first bringing to town the state’s LGBTI regional roadshow.
Ro Allen was joined in Bendigo by gay rights advocate Daniel Witthaus and together they floated with attendees convening a meeting of queer leaders from across regional Victoria to discuss the future of the LGBTI people living outside the state’s capital.
“What's good is a number of allies in the room who are open to learning and want to improve the service system in Bendigo,” Allen said.
Also on the agenda was the safety and mental health of LGBTI people in regional areas.
Allen applauded headspace Bendigo for employing a counsellor specifically for LGBTI clients, nothing 30 per cent of the youth mental health service’s clients nationally identified as same-sex attracted, or sex and gender diverse.
It was important the community understood that family violence affected the LGBTI community, not just their heterosexual peers, Allen said.
Read more: Bendigo meets busload of rainbow leaders
Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards was part of the roadshow visit and explained the queer community in Bendigo endured difficulties during the recent same-sex marriage survey.
“The issues are quite the same (here are they are across Victoria),” she said.
“Being able to come out and speak your mind, being accepted by the community, understanding what equality means.”
The MP also impressed upon visitors the importance of caring for the mental health of same-sex attracted people and the gender diverse community.
The LGBTI Roadshow initiative aimed to raise awareness of homophobia, transphobia, biphobia and intersexphobia in regional area, and to reduce this discrimination.
The project was also tasked with building capability among government and council staff, community workers and health practitioners to offer LGBTI-friendly services.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health crisis, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Victims of family violence and their supporters can seek assistance 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
In an emergency, dial 000.