Services should be approachable, welcoming, safe and inclusive for all Victorians throughout their journey and when moving between services. LGBTIQA+ people must be able to access the services that meet their needs. Their experience through Victorian Government services should result in improved life outcomes.
Services shape our lives
Like all Victorians, LGBTIQA+ Victorians use a broad range of government services. These include our health and wellbeing, mental health, justice, child protection, family violence, sexual assault, housing and education systems. We also know that LGBTIQA+ people are more likely to use a mainstream service accredited as LGBTIQA+ inclusive or LGBTIQA+ specialist services1.
'I should be able to be myself and be comfortable in any locality - in any situation.'
Workshop participant, deaf consultation
It is critical that we remove barriers to access, including anticipated discrimination, and improve inclusiveness across all sectors and in all areas of government service delivery. An example is for people with an intersex variation who, due to an earlier negative medical experience, may be less likely to use services later in life for fear of lack of understanding.
Designing with inclusivity in mind
We need to consider all Victorian communities, in their diversity, when designing the policies, services and programs they use. Commissioning, designing and delivering with LGBTIQA+ inclusiveness, safety and accessibility in mind will improve the experience LGBTIQA+ Victorians have when using government services.
Some of the ways to improve LGBTIQA+ experiences include ensuring access to:
- inclusive housing and homelessness services
- LGBTIQA+ suitable health care
- safety in the justice, family violence, sexual assault and child protection systems.
Access also means providing LGBTIQA+ people with information and supports to use different services.
A focus on Aboriginal self-determination, intersectionality, inclusion, lived experience and co-design will need to be standard to create LGBTIQA+ friendly services. For example, LGBTIQA+ services should be culturally suitable for Aboriginal and multicultural communities. Likewise, Aboriginal and multicultural communities’ services should be LGBTIQA+ inclusive.
The most successful programs are those that include the expertise and lived experience of community within design and delivery. The Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System have recognised this important need. These royal commissions recommended redesigning both systems with diverse communities’ voices and lived experience in mind, including LGBTIQA+ communities.
Building workforce capability
'Peer-based, peer-led responses by people with lived experience are incredibly important.'
Workshop participant, HIV+ consultation
The people delivering services will be key enablers to creating inclusive services, where the needs of LGBTIQA+ people are understood, respected, considered and embedded in service delivery. For example, the victimisation of LGBTIQA+ people occurs in the broader community and within families. We can only deal with these kind of prejudice-motivated actions and threats to safety if our systems and the people delivering them can recognise the services LGBTIQA+ people require.
We will align this work with the work already being done under the Victorian Government’s Building from strength: 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response. The Industry Plan aims to build the capability of all workforces – including those working with LGBTIQA+ Victorians – to help prevent and respond to family violence.
The work already underway
We are already carrying out a range of important work to improve government services for LGBTIQA+ communities. We will need to continue and build on this work to realise the LGBTIQA+ strategy. Rainbow Tick accreditation and other targeted LGBTIQA+ inclusion initiatives are great examples of how we can build services that are safe, inclusive and affirming for LGBTIQA+ Victorians.
Safe Schools ensures Victorian schools are safe and inclusive environments for all students, including LGBTIQA+ students. This is a great example of how we can prevent discrimination that harms LGBTIQA+ people’s mental health before it takes place. Under this strategy, we will continue and extend on Safe Schools to drive safe and positive learning environments by updating resources and we will build more inclusive TAFEs and Learn Locals.
Within the justice system, recent policies better support and care for people in prison who are trans, gender diverse or have an intersex variation. Telehealth access to gender services, including the Monash Health and Gender Clinic, is also provided for trans, gender diverse and non-binary people in prison.
Bringing LGBTIQA+ voices to government reform
There are opportunities to use existing strategies and reforms and those in development to make sure we design and implement them with LGBTIQA+ voices.
We have developed the state’s Second action plan 2018–2021 under Free from Violence: Victoria’s strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women. Greater understanding into LGBTIQA+ experiences of family violence and what works to prevent it informed this action plan.
As Victoria delivers its next state disability plan, taking an intersectional view will ensure we hear and consider the voices of LGBTIQA+ people with disability across government policies, programs and services.
The Victoria Police LGBTI inclusion strategy and action plan 2018–2021 is putting into action Victoria Police’s intention to create an inclusive organisation that respects everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. The Victoria Police Gender Equality and Inclusion Command will also achieve gender equality and recognises the non-binary nature of gender.
Building on existing work to improve systems
There is an important focus on people with an intersex variation in the LGBTIQA+ strategy, particularly in the health system. Building on work to date, we will develop resources to raise awareness of intersex variations. We will target these to:
- parents, children and families
- health professionals
- service providers
- community members.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System highlighted that we need to do more to support LGBTIQA+ mental health and wellbeing needs. LGBTIQA+ specialist services like the LGBTIQA+ family counselling service and Rainbow Door are solid foundations to expand on and learn from. All community interactions are an opportunity to ensure inclusion, respect and safety.
Early actions we will deliver
- Improve the understanding of LGBTIQA+ specialist and mainstream services in the provision of adequate supports for LGBTIQA+ communities
- Embed LGBTIQA+ voices in the diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework and governance model
- Implement (I) am Equal: Future directions for Victoria’s Intersex community with resources and supports to improve the health and wellbeing of people with an intersex variation
- Ensure relationship, sexuality and consent education is LGBTIQA+ inclusive, including supporting resources
- Develop LGBTIQA+ health and wellbeing action plan to improve health and wellbeing outcomes
- Build the capacity of Jobs Victoria service providers to support pathways to employment for LGBTIQA+ jobseekers
- Improve LGBTIQA+ inclusion in family violence and sexual assault sector, including addressing key service gaps and strengthening LGBTIQA+ capability
- Improve public fertility care access for LGBTIQA+ families by delivering on recommendations from the Review of Assisted Reproductive Treatment in Victoria
- Support LGBTIQA+ inclusive employment practices, including resources and supports for employers
- Implement the recommendations of the review into decriminalising sex work in Victoria
- Support young LGBTIQA+ people to foster connections with peers and older LGBTIQA+ communities.
Actions we will deliver over the life of the strategy
- Develop LGBTIQA+ inclusive resources and provide targeted access to LGBTIQA+ inclusion training for mainstream services
- Improve LGBTIQA+ inclusion in government-funded mainstream services through the implementation of best practice standards for service delivery
- Support the capability building and sustainability of the LGBTIQA+ community-led sector to continue support for LGBTIQA+ Victorians
- Support health and wellbeing supports for trans and gender diverse communities in Victoria, through clinical and peer support services
- Co-design services with LGBTIQA+ communities and organisations.
Signs of impact
We will know we are on track for success in building equal, inclusive and accessible services against this priority area when LGBTIQA+ people have improved health and wellbeing.
LGBTIQA+ people will access the services they need when they need them and their experience will be positive. Services they access will reflect their diverse perspectives and needs.
A key sign will be that LGBTIQA+ people feel treated with dignity and respect when using government services. By achieving these things, we want to see a reduction in the number of LGBTIQA+ people attempting suicide in the past 12 months. We want to see it fall from the current 5.2 per cent of LGBTIQA+ adults2 and 9.4 per cent of young LGBTQA+ Victorians3.
Equality is everyone’s responsibility
VincentCare delivers a range of specialised services to people going through or at risk of:
- family violence
- alcohol and other drug dependency
- mental ill health
- needing financial and social isolation services.
The not-for-profit organisation wanted to improve the outcomes and experiences of its LGBTIQA+ clients. It wanted to create an affirming and culturally safe workplace for its LGBTIQA+ staff and volunteers. Since undertaking Rainbow Tick accreditation, staff, volunteers and clients have stated that the service is a place of pride where their gender and sexuality is acknowledged and respected.
VincentCare got Victorian Government funding to support its work towards achieving Rainbow Tick accreditation. Rainbow Tick accreditation is a Rainbow Health Australia framework that helps organisations become safe, inclusive and affirming for LGBTIQA+ communities.
The entire VincentCare community worked towards accreditation. They applied a solid process of cultural change, client and staff consultation and volunteer and employee training. This led to developing LGBTIQA+ inclusive services.
What I hope is that other people learn this is a conservative and faith-based organisation and yet that did not stop us from achieving Rainbow Tick accreditation
Jac Tomlins (she/her), Manager, Gender and Sexuality, VincentCare
The positive changes have led to LGBTIQA+ clients reporting feeling welcomed, respected and safe. Their needs are better met by staff who understand their experiences. LGBTIQA+ staff and volunteers feel safe, acknowledged and celebrated – with a huge sense of pride at work.
 Hill AO, et al. 2020, Private lives 3: the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people in Australia, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
 Hill AO, et al. 2021c, Writing themselves in 4: the health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ young people in Australia. Victoria summary report, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne.