The Australian Federal Police (AFP) gay and lesbian liaison officers (GLLOs) program this month celebrates 15 years in operation.
GLLO program chair Delia Quigley said in 1996 the AFP had looked into establishing a GLLO program after the success of the NSW Police GLLO program.
“They were the first in the country to provide GLLOs and we followed their example,” Quigley said.
“They initially provided training for our officers and gradually we took over that training work ourselves.”
A three-month trial with two officers was deemed a success and, a decade and a half later, the AFP has 215 GLLOs around the country.
“The information and training I’ve had as a GLLO has helped me when I’ve been posted to countries like Sudan, in assisting in areas like training on HIV education,” Quigley said.
GLLOs were also important in providing support for GLBTI colleagues both inside and outside the AFP.
“One of our women GLLOs, while working in East Timor, provided advice and assistance to a police officer from another nation who was having some issues regarding her sexuality in that United Nations environment,” Quigley told the Star Observer.
“It can be very difficult for someone dealing with coming out, working within a police agency and also being in a foreign environment where people may be less flexible in their attitudes because of a strong religious background but it can also be very interesting working in those kinds of environments.”
Policing the ACT was where the most contact between GLLOs and GLBTI community members occurred, Quigley said.
“The GLLOs spend a lot of time working within the community, raising awareness that they are available for people to speak to when they’ve been a victim of crime or they need to speak to a police officer but have some concerns about outing themselves or how they might be treated by police,” she said.
Entering its 16th year, training remains a big priority for the organisation which was named the most GLBTI-friendly public sector employee in Australia at this year’s Pride and Diversity Awards.