Victoria’s peaks pledge to support LGBTIQ+ communities with Embracing Equality Charter

May 5, 2021

Victoria’s leading peak organisations for key service sectors, including the VHA, have joined together for the first time to embrace equality and work to end the discrimination and inequities experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people in Victoria.

The Embracing Equality Charter – a collaboration between the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre), 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 – outlines a shared commitment to uphold the human rights of LGBTIQ+ people, ensure LGBTIQ+ inclusive services and education, and build a sustain-able community-controlled LGBTIQ+ sector.

“Through our work to support the health of all Victorians, our sector remains committed to ensuring members of Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ com-munity receive the care and support they need, when and where they need it. We are proud to be signatories of this Charter and to be work-ing together to improve the poor outcomes for the LGBTIQ+ community, as recently identified in the final report from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System,” Tom Symondson, CEO of the VHA said.

The release of the Charter follows a number of key publications, including La Trobe University’s Private Lives 3 and Writing Themselves in 4, that have demonstrated that LGBTIQ+ Victorians are a significant and severely underserved proportion of the population experiencing enormous health and wellbeing disadvantages. The data from the publications shows that LGBTIQ+ people experience disproportionately higher rates of substance misuse, family violence and homelessness, and the mental health of LGBTIQ+ people has been at crisis levels for decades with no signs of improvement. Almost one third of LGBTIQ+ people have attempted suicide at some point in their lives and 1 in 20 report having attempted suicide in the last 12 months, a rate thirteen times higher than non-LGBTIQ+ people.

In signing on to the Charter, these peak bodies are demonstrating their commitment to improving the lives of LGBTIQ+ people, as well as building strong, safe and sustainable LGBTIQ+ communities that can enjoy the benefits of full economic, educational and community participation.

The Centre’s CEO Deb Tsorbaris said while great strides have been made towards inclusion, Victoria still has a long way to go in ending the inequities and discrimination experienced by LGBTIQ+ people, “Marriage equality and the ban on conversion practices in Victoria are welcome reforms, but continuing deep disadvantage and discrimination are holding LGBTIQ+ people and communities back.”

“By working together as a coalition of peak bodies, we hope to change this by truly embracing equality,” Ms Tsorbaris said.