The NSW Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) program is set to be reinvigorated with gay rights advocate Jackie Braw at the helm.
Braw, who has worked at ACON and was the first gay and lesbian liaison with the NSW Attorney General’s department, has been appointed gay, lesbian and transgender senior programs officer in the commissioner’s executive unit with NSW Police.
Her role is to manage and revive the 16-year-old GLLO program, which ACON president Adrian Lovney suggested was in a state of complete disrepair.
Now is a golden opportunity to reinvigorate the program, to put a bit more structure into it, Braw said.
The first thing she planned to do was a survey of all existing GLLOs across the state to find out exactly how many there were (the estimated figure is around 100), where they were located, what resources they had and what training they had received.
As well as supporting existing GLLOs it will be her responsibility to train new ones and to make sure gay and lesbian policies are properly developed and carried out in the police force.
Braw said the GLLO Executive, with its team of 10 police GLLOs, had recently reformed to provide guidance and direction for the program.
We had our first new GLLO Executive meeting last week and everyone’s very enthusiastic and ready to get things moving, she said.
As for what went wrong with the GLLO program, Braw said there had been too much focus on internal policy development and on reviewing GLLO training.
Which kind of meant the maintenance of the GLLO program wasn’t the focus over the last couple of years, and that is going to be the focus for me.
The next year or two is really to provide a bit more structure and support to the GLLO program.
The program also stalled, she said, when the position was left vacant following the death last year of previous senior program officer, David Toolan.
Over the past 12 months ACON has complained about the lack of a full-time GLLO at Surry Hills Police. Instead, five officers had GLLO training in an effort to ensure there was at least one on duty at all times.
But Adrian Lovney said there needed to be at least one full-time GLLO who could build a relationship with the community and regularly attend meetings with gay groups.
In response Braw said all local area commands would be assessed to discover the exact GLLO needs of each area, and Surry Hills would be the first to be looked at.
Because of Surry Hills’ high proportion of gay and lesbian people, all police there would be given some sort of GLLO training, Braw said.
Braw said she was fully aware there were community concerns about safety in the Surry Hills area and she was keen to investigate them further.
A new police spokesperson on gay, lesbian and transgender issues has been appointed. Superintendent Karen Webb will work with Braw to educate police and the public about the GLLO program.
Lovney said the developments were long overdue and very welcome.
Jackie Braw is an experienced and skilled bureaucrat with a long history of working with our communities and working within community-based organisations, he said.
We’re very excited about the potential she will bring to the renewal of the GLLO program.
We thought the program had fallen into complete disrepair through a lack of interest, a lack of investment and a perhaps a lack of commitment by senior levels of the police force.
ACON had been particularly despondent about the program, he said, after a promised review of it with ACON and the Anti-Violence Project two years ago never occurred.
Braw has previously worked at ACON as Illawarra branch manager, as a board member and is currently on the Lesbian Health Working Group.
Her partner is Vicky Harding, author of the Learn To Include children’s books about same-sex parent families.