LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness: Support, inclusion & change

Warning: This story mentions family, domestic and intimate partner violence, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

May 28 marks LGBTIQA+ Domestic Violence Awareness Day, an opportunity to highlight the needs of our communities when it comes to prevention and support.

First marked in Australia in 2020, the day aims to shine a light on family, domestic (FDV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) in LGBTQIA+ relationships, and the need for tailored support services for survivors and training for those seeking to provide assistance.

LGBTIQA+ people experience the same forms of violence, power and control as those in heteronormative, cisgender or endosex (someone who is not intersex) relationships, but there are some very specific ways that LGBTIQA+ individuals can experience abuse.

Connection and Wellbeing Australia’s (CAWA) Bella Broadway is a mental health and crisis support expert, trainer and consultant, working over the past seven years towards building greater awareness of the specific needs for those in our community who have experienced FDV/IPV and creating targeted support through the Rainbow Gate project currently in development.

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Bella explains there is a lack of community understanding when we talk about the impact of violence, power and control.

“There are often very low levels of understanding about this issue within LGBTIQA+ community, as the current frameworks and discussions about family and domestic violence are often presented as predominately as affecting cisgender, endosex, straight women at the hands of a cisgender, endosex, straight man.

“When LGBTIQA+ people don’t see themselves and their lives reflected in discussions about family, domestic and intimate partner violence, they are given messages that make them second guess if that’s what it is.”

Beyond the need for greater education and understanding, Bella notes there are no specific LGBTIQA+ services for FDV and IPV in Western Australia, creating further barriers for those seeking support.

“There are of course individual workers and some services that may be supporting LGBTQIA+ women, but those spaces are not comprehensively trained, organized or funded to support them in an informed and holistic manner there are large sections of the LGBTIQA+ community (particularly men, non-binary and intersex folks) that they cannot support at all because of systemic limitations and discriminations.”

To build capacity among existing services, Bella encourages strengthening knowledge and training for staff, developing inclusive policies, deploying inclusive language, ensuring confidentiality and privacy and working in partnership with LGBTIQA+ individuals, groups and related services that can guide and advise towards more appropriate, intersectional care.

“By implementing these considerations, support services can create an environment that is genuinely inclusive and supportive of LGBTQIA+ individuals, fostering their well-being and access to essential support and it all starts with training.”

“LGBTIQA+ people are often lumped together as one homogenous group, when we know that LGBTQIA+ identities are diverse and intersect with other health, spiritual, cultural, ethnic, and religious identities and experiences.

“When providing training or consultancy to organisations we ensure they understand that if they are not informed about and inclusive of other marginalized communities and if their services are not accessible to First Nations Mob, PoC, Migrant and Refugee and Disabled and/or Neurodiverse/Neurodivergent folks then they are not truly inclusive of all LGBTIQA+ people.

“We provide education resources and training to staff, volunteers, and also to other service users on intersectionality and its relevance to LGBTQIA+ issues. This includes understanding how different identities, such as race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic status, and religion, intersect with LGBTQIA+ identities and impact individuals’ experiences.

“By embracing intersectionality in LGBTQIA+ awareness, you can better address the unique needs and challenges faced by individuals with intersecting identities, promote inclusivity, and create a more equitable and supportive environment for all members of the community.”

Currently, these organisations can access resources developed as part of the Rainbow Gate project. Announced in 2022, the WA-first initiative provides an online hub for LGBTIQA+ people seeking support or guidance on how to support others. Developed, designed and delivered by WA’s LGBTIQA+ community, the project is led by CAWA in partnership with RUAH Community Services and funded by the Western Australian Department of Communities.

“Rainbow Gate has been co-designed and informed by our phenomenal community reference group, community survey and one-on-one consultations.

“LGBTIQA+ people are left out of national campaigns and there is often no direct health messing targeting LGBTIQA+ people. In Western Australia there are currently no specific support services for LGBTIQA+ people – leaving the issue virtually invisible both within LGBTIQA+ spaces and in the wider community.

“Barriers to LGBTIQA+ people talking about their experiences and seeking help can include a lack of inclusive and informed services, an assumption that violence, power and control does not happen in LGBTIQA+ relationships; services having little/no knowledge about LGBTIQA+ populations and their specific needs; discrimination, (or fear of discrimination) in the form of policy, law and lack support services available; stigma and shame (having to disclose relationship or identity in order to receive support); and internalised homo/bi/transphobia and intersex discrimination.

“Rainbow Gate is about building individual, community and support sector capacity to better understand LGBTIQA+ experiences of violence, power and control and to create cultural change in how services are provided.”

Rainbow Gate’s website was due to be launched today, though CAWA have made the decision to delay the launch to ensure the project is an comprehensive as possible.

“It has been so important to ensure that we provide diverse lived experiences perspectives that ensures that the information and resources we provide are meaningful for all members of the LGBTIQA+ community. We have been so incredibly blown away with the knowledge and insights from people involved in the project and the work of our Design and Consultancy group has really ensured what we are creating is specifically Western Australian.

“There has been a real focus on providing practical toots and resources that the LGBTIQA+ community can use for themselves and to support others. As there is so much work to be done, we also want to ensure that we provide enough safe referral pathways, so this will give us time to deliver more training.”

On launch, Rainbow Gate will be equipped with support resources and a referral directory to those specifically trained in LGBTIQA+ support. Professionals and allied workers will be able to access training and resources, and the online space will provide a general information about FDV/IPV and awareness raising tools such as posters, pins and printable resources.

Ahead of the project launch, CAWA will also be hosting a free online training session on July 6 for LGBTIQA+ community members who wish to learn how to better support those in need.

“With the lack of specific services available people often turn to loved ones and LGBTIQA+ community for support. This can be problematic for a number of reasons, namely often the supporters are not informed about how to best provide support and they may believe myths and stereotypes about LGBTIQA+ experiences of violence, power and control.”

“Many marginalised communities including LGBTIQA+ people, can be reluctant to contact mainstream services (like 1800 RESPECT) or emergency services due to their own, or others, previous experiences.

“There are some things you can do to lessen the impact for LGBTIQA+ people in interacting with Emergency Services. It is better to have these things planned for and discussed with the person experiencing violence, power and control earlier so they know when and when they may be called and what to expect and they can choose what options will work best for them.

This May 28, CAWA encourages you to learn more about how you can be part of our work in creating cultural and systemic change and how you can connect with the ground-breaking Rainbow Gate project.

“We hope by creating visibility for the work being done, we can provide hope to all LGBTIQA+ Western Australians who need support. We would love people to share the resources on our social to help spread the word.”

Stay up to date with the Rainbow Gate project by joining the CAWA mailing list or connecting on Facebook. To join the official launch event on Friday 28 July, head to Surveyplanet.

Leigh Andrew Hill

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

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

DISCHARGED[email protected] /
Discharged is a trans-led support service with peer support groups for trans and gender diverse folks.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 /

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 /

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