Bendigo health advocates have welcomed a Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendation that more be done to assist same-sex attracted and gender-diverse victims.
The commission’s report, released on Wednesday, explained violence occurred in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, with the rate of intimate partner abuse perpetrated on transgender people likely to be even higher.
Bendigo Community Health Services chief executive Kim Sykes said the report’s inclusiveness was one of its strengths.
“Whilst recognising this violence is generally focused on women, and the perpetrator is usually a man, it acknowledged that is not a universal truth,” Ms Sykes said.
“It says that no matter who you are, you deserve respect and to be treated respectfully.”
The royal commission explained LGBTI people could experience different types of violence than heterosexuals, like threats of having their sexuality or HIV status disclosed, or having HIV medication withheld.
But the commission also said there were significant barriers to reporting violence for LGBTI victims, with both real and perceived discrimination against the queer community still common.
It recommended support services better equip their staff with the skills needed to assist LGBTI people and acquire ‘rainbow tick’ qualification before the end of 2018.
Annie North Women’s Refuge chief executive Julie Oberin said the LGBTI recommendations followed a groundswell of changing sentiments towards same-sex attracted and gender-diverse people.
Asked how services such as hers could reach out to marginalised communities, Ms Oberin said: “We've all got to get a lot better at it, and it's got to be driven from the grass roots.”
Ms Sykes agreed, saying strong leadership was needed to set an example to all Australians. “I think that's what we're seeing from this government and this premier,” she said. “Many of us might try to do things because we feel they're the right things to do, but the government has the power to mandate others do the same.”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.