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Steps towards being a safer, inclusive, and affirming organisation for the LGBTQIA+ Community


The 17th of May is ‘International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)’. The day aims to raise awareness of the continued presence of discrimination, violence, and inequity many LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual) people experience. 

Whilst there have been progressive social and political advancements for LGBTQIA+ people in Australia, there is still a long road ahead for many, especially those disproportionately impacted by unstable housing and homelessness.

According to a study conducted by the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology (McNair, Andrew et al., 2017), three factors associated with higher rates of homelessness for LGBTQIA+ included:

  1. Violence and Harassment: arising from homophobia, biphobia and/or transphobia and explicit discrimination
  2. Ignorance: exhibited through heteronormativity and assumptions of heterosexuality and misgendering
  3. Personal Vulnerability: experienced through family conflict, childhood sexual assault, mental health, substance issues, and earlier homelessness episodes.

As a workplace and housing and homelessness service provider, Haven Home Safe (HHS) has taken strides to access, enhance, and improve its internal and external systems, processes, and practices, to ensure its services and environment is safe, inclusive, and affirming for its LGBTQIA+ clients and staff.

In recognition of IDAHOBIT Day, HHS is introducing the option for staff to add their pronouns to their email signatures.

Last year, many staff completed the ‘LGBTIQ+ 101: Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness Training’ hosted by Thorne Harbour Health, and HHS became members of the Welcome Here Project. HHS also introduced Gender Affirmation Leave and expanded its Parental Leave policy to include IVF, surrogacy, or (foster to) adoption, recognising the composition and creation of families are unique and diverse.

Despite these positive steps forward, HHS is committed and recognises there is a lot more to do. We hope all organisations will join us on this day and beyond by stepping out of their comfort zones to demonstrate allyship to the LGBTQIA+ community. This could mean providing support to employees to add pronouns to email signatures, commence a training course, wear a pronoun/pride/ally pin, display a pride flag at your office, do regular check-ins with your own biases and assumptions, and challenge heteronormativity.

If we each participate collectively, we create a safer, more inclusive, and affirming environment and future for our LGBTQIA+ clients and colleagues through these incremental but significantly impactful actions.

Reference: McNair, R., C. Andrews, S. Parkinson, and D. Dempsey. 2017. LGBTQ Homelessness: Risks, Resilience, and Access to Services in Victoria – Final Report. Melbourne.

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