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Cook Government fund development of WA-first LGBTIQA+ Inclusion Strategy

EXCLUSIVE

The WA Labor Government has announced $900,000 in funding for the first ever Western Australian LGBTIQA+ Inclusion Strategy.

The funding will be provided to local not-for-profit organisations Living Proud WA, TransFolk of WA and GLBTI Rights in Ageing Inc (GRAI) to support the development and implementation of the strategy. Each of these bodies have been supporting WA’s LGBTIQA+ community for many years.

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The Cook Government also note the contributions of Rainbow Futures WA, a consortium of WA-based LGBTQIA+ organisations and individuals, saying they have advocated persuasively for the initiative and will be an important contributor to its development and implementation.

The funding has been committed to address the significantly higher levels of discrimination, stigma, and social exclusion faced by LGBTIQA+ people in WA and improving health, social and economic outcomes affected by those factors.

Additionally, an LGBTQIA+ peak body will be established and supported to implement the strategy.

The strategy will guide a coordinated approach through targeted support, strong partnerships and better integration between government agencies including the Departments of Communities, Education and Health and the Mental Health Commission.

Community Services Minister Sabine Winton says this is an important step to ensure LGBTQIA+ people in WA benefit from a coordinated approach that will champion their interests now and into the future.

“The funding will allow the Department of Communities to work closely with non-government LGBTQIA+ groups to develop a framework that will reduce discrimination and promote equality.”

The Minister for Seniors and Ageing Minister, Don Punch, adds that the Cook Government is committed to ensuring older Western Australians feel valued, safe and empowered to lead happy and fulfilling lives in age-friendly communities.

“Seniors make up 5.3 per cent of same-sex couples in Australia, which is why it’s so important all seniors feel safe to be open about who they are,” Minister Punch said.

“An inclusive community benefits everyone and a culture of inclusion leads to higher performance, productivity and improved well-being for all.”

Hannah Beazley, WA’s Minister for Youth, says equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights that belong to all of us, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We know that young LGBTQIA+ people are far more likely to face discrimination and exclusion, which is completely unacceptable in 2024.

“The Cook Government is committed to creating equal opportunities for all West Australians, and this whole-of-government strategy will bolster our efforts to address discrimination – ensuring LGBTQIA+ people in WA are given every chance to thrive and succeed.”

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Minister Beazley says she is pleased to announce the development of the LGBTQIA+ Inclusion Strategy.

“Over the last couple of months I’ve been with everyone else talking to all sorts of people, but especially young people. I’m responsible for those aged 10 to 25 and inclusion is what matters to them.”

Minister Beazley says the Cook Government is listening to WA’s LGBTQIA+ community, with the strategy’s whole-of-government approach being led by community consultation and feedback.

“Rather than having a siloed approach, [the community says] their needs would be better met and serviced, and rightly so, through a whole-of-government holistic approach. I’m really pleased about that and I’m really pleased to be the lead minister on this for our community.”

There has been rising community criticism of the successive McGowan and Cook Governments, with promises to act on restricting harmful LGBTIQA+ conversion practices, extending surrogacy laws to be more inclusive, protections for LGBTIQA+ teachers in faith-based schools and abolishing the Gender Reassignment Board sitting on the backburner for many years.

This last commitment was made back in 2017, before WA Labor won government from the long-governing Liberals.

Attorney General John Quigley’s recent retirement announcement also exacerbated these concerns, with local advocacy group Just.Equal calling for the outgoing AG to “step up or step aside”.

When asked whether this strategy would be supplemented by law reform in these areas, Minister Beazley said she didn’t want to pre-empt what comes out of its development.

“I will say that it will definitely consider any required amendments to legislation.”

“It remains a definite priority of the Cook Labor Government to ensure we’re doing all we can to include our LGBTQIA+ community in all of our policy work and legislative review and I am deeply committed to seeing those things progressed.”

Community groups welcome funding supported by action

Local LGBTQIA+ groups who will be leading the development of the strategy have welcomed the government’s commitment.

Living Proud WA, who run the QLife counselling and referral service among other initiatives, are one of three organisations involved in its advancement.

Treasurer Sam Gibbings said the core funding commitment was essential in meeting the growing needs of the LGBTQIA+ community in Western Australia.

“Many organisations in the sector are struggling to keep up with demand and rely heavily on volunteers, so this welcome and ongoing injection of funds will help us provide the increased resources and capacity that our community needs, while helping ensure greater resilience within the LGBTQIA+ sector,” Gibbings said.

“This funding is important as we work towards a whole-of-government approach that will support improved community outcomes and better health and wellbeing within the LGBTQIA+ community.

“We welcome this commitment, while also encouraging the WA Government to ensure appropriate legislation is in place that safeguards the wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ community, so that people can live their lives safely and proudly.”

TransFolk of WA Chairperson Dr Thomas Drake-Brockman highlighted the importance of community-controlled organisations to provide safe supports for trans and gender diverse people in WA.

“This funding recognises and supports the important work of LGBTIQA+ community organisations to provide safe services to our communities. The workload involved in maintaining these organisations is significant and has long relied on overloaded community volunteers.

“TransFolk of WA continues to call for urgent change to legislation that holds trans people in WA back from being able to safely live their full and authentic lives.”

GRAI Chair David Gibson says the funding allocation is a testament to the collaborative efforts of countless individuals and organisations who have tirelessly championed LGBTQIA+ rights over the decades.

“It underscores the importance of supporting community-controlled and peer-led organisations that address the unique challenges faced by members of the Rainbow community,” Gibson said.

Rainbow Futures WA spokesperson, Misty Farquhar welcomed the announcement but noted that urgent reforms were still a top priority for LGBTIQA+ people and groups across the state.

“This is an incredible starting point for an improved relationship between WA’s LGBTIQA+ community and Government,” Farquhar said.

“This funding will have a big impact for these community-controlled organisations that do so much for LGBTIQA+ people in WA and will help them to build and grow more sustainably moving forward.

“But providing funding is just the beginning. Our call for the government to urgently implement LGBTIQA+ law reform remains as loud as ever.”

“We need an updated Equal Opportunity Act that provides protections for LGBTIQA+ people, modernisation of the legal gender recognition process, banning of conversion practices, surrogacy to be made available to all people, and an end to medical interventions that modify the bodies of children with intersex variations without their personal informed consent.”

Also announced was funding for a peak advocacy body to develop and facilitate implementation of an LGBTIQA+ inclusion strategy. Farquhar said the original proposal, developed by Rainbow Futures WA and its members, would ensure that the LGBTIQA+ community is consistently involved in decisions that affect them across government.

“The LGBTIQA+ community has lost a lot of trust in the government and rightly so. Promises have been broken and people have been left in limbo,” they said.

“But this shows a real commitment from the government to get it right. We need to ensure our voices are heard in consultations with LGBTIQA+ people that are meaningful rather than symbolic.”

Leigh Andrew Hill


Do you need some support?

Support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 / qlife.org.au (Webchat 3pm – midnight)
QLife are a counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people.

DISCHARGEDinfo@discharged.asn.au / discharged.asn.au
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 / lifeline.org.au

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 / www.beyondblue.org.au


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