2.35pm | March 18, 2022




SUBJECTS:  Additional family and domestic workers for community led LGBTIQ+ organisations to support people experiencing violence.

JOSH BURNS MP, MEMBER FOR MACNAMARA: Well, thank you everyone for being here. We are here at the absolutely magnificent Pride Centre in St Kilda. It is really special. This place, it's a place where community organisations are at home, and they empower people and they represent all the wonderful parts of our LGBTIQA+ community.   

I would of course like to acknowledge the traditional owners, the Bunurong people and pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging. We have an amazing team up here on stage with me and I would especially like to welcome my federal colleagues, Senator Jenny McAllister, Linda Burney, Ged Kearney, and everyone who's joining us here today.  

Today's announcement is special. Jenny's going to go into it. But I do just want to say that St Kilda is really proud to have the Pride Centre in the heart of St. Kilda. It's a place where St Kilda has always been synonymous with diversity and colourful characters even, but more than that, it's a place where people can feel at home. It's a place where people can be themselves and celebrate themselves. And that's what the Pride Centre is all about. We are so pleased to be able to be here today as a part of the Federal Labor team to talk about some really important initiatives that will hopefully help support our amazing LGBTIQ+ health organisations, including Switchboard as well. So, I'll hand over to Jenny to say a few words. 

SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE:  Thank you, Josh.  Thank you for being here and for your welcome. And thank you very much to the Pride Centre for hosting us here in this absolutely beautiful space. It's a real pleasure to be joined today by LGBTIQ+ Health Australia – thank  you, Nicky; to be here with Switchboard and your team, Joe; and also to hear today from Koori Pride, which is a really important contribution to this conversation.  

Some time ago, Labor announced that we would, if we formed a government, provide resources for an additional 500 workers in the domestic and family violence sector. We know that every service across the country tells us that they need an extra pair of hands. We also know that our response to domestic and family violence needs to speak to everyone in our community. This can't be a service that is only available to some people. Because the truth is, that violence affects everyone. We are dealing with an epidemic of violence and every person who reaches out for help to support their process, their experience, should receive it.  

That’s why, what we are saying today, is that if we are elected, fifteen of those workers will go to specialist LGBTIQ+ health organisations. We acknowledge and respect the leadership that these organisations have played over many years, advocating for your constituencies, your communities, to be seen, and acknowledged. Advocating for them to be counted in the Census, advocatingfor them to receive a response through the health system. That leadership is immensely important, and it should be supported with resources.  

We've heard this morning from the team at Switchboard about what it's meant to be able to stand up capability to respond specifically to the LGBTIQ community when they are experiencing violence. Ten minutes before the Rainbow Door opened, they received their first call, and ever since it opened, they've been overwhelmed by the demand.    

So, all services need to be responsive to the LGBTIQ+ community but we need specialist capability. And that's why this announcement today responds to that very specific need. We know that there will need to be other reforms. We know we are going to need to partner with you, with the organisations here to build capacity right across the system, and that's a commitment we are also willing to make. We want to be good partners to you, good allies. But today is a first step on that journey - making sure that there are additional resources available in your services, led by your communities, to do this incredibly important work. Thank you. Linda, do you want to make a few remarks? 

LINDA BURNEY MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES SHADOW MINISTER FOR INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS, MEMBER FOR BARTON: Good morning, everyone, and thank you all for coming, and thank you for hosting us here, today. I too recognise country.  

Federal Labor understands, and not only understands, but today is showing, through action, that there has been a lack of recognition of the needs of the LGBTIQ+ community, particularly in this space of domestic and family violence. Domestic and family violence does not discriminate. It applies to all sections of our community. And something that we are absolutely serious about, is servicing the whole community, and not just parts of the community. Which is why today's announcement is so very, very significant, and important.   

Jenny has indicated that this is part of the response. The other part needs to be, and we heard it very clearly, from people this morning, mainstream organisations, and I say this very plainly, mainstream organisations that have a responsibility to support the whole community, when their community or those individuals that are in crisis, have to also recognise that the LGBTQI+ community is part of the whole community. That reform is something that we will pursue very enthusiastically.  

I'm joined by many people this morning, and I've said enough, except to say that we are really proud of this announcement. I thank Jenny and her team for the work that we've done on it. But I can tell you that people from diverse backgrounds will be treated as equals, under an Albanese Labor Government. Thank you.  

NICKY BATH, CEO LGBTIQ+ HEALTH AUSTRALIA: Thank you very much for having us here today. I'm really proud to stand before you as the CEO of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia, the national peak body for LGBTIQ+ health across the country. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we're meeting here today. 

Private Lives is the third iteration of the largest national survey on the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people. That survey tells us that more than two fifths of participants reported ever being in an intimate relationship where they felt they were abused in some way. Almost half of the participants reported ever been sexually assaulted. The announcement today is so welcomed, LGBTIQ+ community-controlled organisations are best placed to meet the needs of our communities, and they need to be invested in.  

These roles will assist our organisations to build their capacity to deliver and respond to family intimate partner violence. This model of investment needs to be duplicated across all of the areas of health and wellbeing disparities, that are faced by our communities. For example, alcohol and other drug use, mental health, suicide prevention, cancer, to increase organisational sustainability, enhance capacity, meet demand, and of course, expand geographical reach. LGBTIQ+ Health Australia's four member organisations are here, ready, and needing to respond now. They need this investment, this announcement, so that this announcement can be as welcomed - as it is as a real step in the right direction. Thank you. 

JOE BALL, CEO SWITCHBOARD VICTORIA: Thanks, Nicky. I'm just going to make some really brief comments because we've actually had a really robust conversation this morning, and it was great to have that conversation, and I look forward to having it with any future government about what we need to do to LGBTQI+ communities.   

I'm the CEO of Switchboard Victoria, my name is Joe Ball. I use the pronouns he/him and they/them. Switchboard Victoria run the only LGBTIQA+ plus family violence helpline. Rainbow Door is a service that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual people and their friends and families. This Rainbow Door is funded by the Victorian Government. It is a supporter and connector model. That's how we set up the Rainbow Door - recognising the gaps in the family violence service and the need that, too many people in our communities are not accessing family violence services, mental health services, when they're directly at a state of crisis in their lives. 

What does it mean to have a support connector service? What do we actually do at the Rainbow Door? Every day, every day, seven days a week, our staff sit at the end of the line, and they talk to people who are experiencing intimate partner violence and family violence. They're living with thoughts of suicide. They have mental health issues. And this is this is what we're doing. This is a practical service. This isn't about prevention, it's about intervention and it's about response.  

It also means that we're safety planning with people who are experiencing family violence, and we're referring them through warm referrals, I'd like to say ‘hot referrals’, into the family violence service. Why I say ‘hot’ is because we're doing co-case management with the service. It is not just giving someone a phone number; it's following that person through the service system. And that's the kind of work we need to do. So, what about this policy today? Frankly, this policy is going to save lives. Full stop. It's going to keep our communities, the LGBTIQ communities, a little bit safer. It’s not everything, but it's a step in the absolute right direction. And it sends a message about that LGBTIQ+ people, as Nicky said, our community-controlled organisations - we are ready. We've been doing this at Switchboard. We've been doing this work for 30 years, and more recently, having this targeted work at Rainbow Door since 2020. So, we're ready.  

This policy shows the respect for the work that we are already doing, every day. It's about not just being funded at the state level, but it being recognised at the federal level and actually building the workforce. That's what we all need.  

Talking about these 15 people, what will actually happen? These are frontline coalface workers. It's bums on the seats. It's family violence workers, taking those phone calls, and doing other work in LGBTQI+ services across the country. Now we've had lots of diversity and inclusion programs, and training for family violence mainstream services, but what this is, is bums on the seats of family violence workers. And that's what we need when there's a national crisis of family violence in this country, and we need to be included in that. So, this policy will support full stop. It will support victim survivors, and it will stop violence, intimate partner violence and family violence, regardless, regardless of your sex, your sexuality, or your gender. And that's the business we're in at Switchboard. We're in the business of saving lives. We're in the business of supporting our community. And that's the business that any future government should be in.