A COMMUNITY project that provides court support and legal advice service for LGBTI people experiencing domestic violence in NSW has won a prestigious industry award.

At the Law and Justice Foundation’s recent Justice Awards, Sydney-based Inner City Legal Centre’s (ICLC) Safe Relationships Project won the Community Legal Centre Justice Award.

The project won because of the way it provided community legal education and training to individuals and organisations, and its establishment of the first LGBTIQ Safe Room in NSW (and Australia) for victims of domestic violence.

It has also empowered LGBTI clients to become more involved in the court processes impacting on their lives, resulting in safer outcomes in court proceedings, such as assisting in their recovery from trauma and re-entering LGBTI communities.

Meanwhile this week, the ICLC also presented on the experiences of the LGBTI community with domestic violence at the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia.

At the hearing, ICLC director Daniel Stubbs said domestic violence occurred “at the same or similar rates” within NSW’s LGBTI community as it did within non-LGBTI relationships.

“However it is often overlooked or misunderstood,” he said.

“Because of a range of barriers faced by the LGBTIQ community and the lack of understanding of LGBTIQ domestic violence, there is a serious lack of support services available to assist those in need, especially LGBTIQ domestic violence survivors, which needs to be addressed.”

The ICLC made a number of recommendations in its submission to the inquiry to assist with increasing the range and level of support provided to the LGBTI community escaping domestic violence.

These include:

  • Further research be funded and carried out to better understand the unique experiences, dynamics and impact of domestic violence for LGBTI people.
  • Training, resources and education be provided to mainstream domestic violence support services, legal aid, community organisations, health providers and police to better identify and respond to the needs of LGBTI people.
  • Increased funding for the ICLC’s Safe Relationship Program to ensure legal services to NSW LGBTI community escaping domestic violence can be provided and promoted.
  • Appropriate domestic violence support services such as telephone counselling, legal services and other support services for the LGBTI community, be promoted and extended, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • The need to improve the availability of emergency accommodation for LGBTI people and their children escaping domestic violence.
  • Policy responses should recognise and prioritise LGBTI people as a vulnerable group in need of specific protection add support around domestic violence.
  • LGBTI organisations should be adequately resourced to provide information, education and support to LGBTI communities to identity and prevent domestic violence and that the Federal Government adopt and support broad based domestic violence awareness campaigns directed at LGBTIQ communities.
  • A person’s status as a victim of domestic violence should be a protected attribute under the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Act to offer greater protection to both LGBTI and heterosexual people who are victims.
  • Perpetrator Programs must be safe and appropriate and relevant for LGBTI people.

To view the ICLC’s submission, click here (submission number 116).

To donate to the ICLC, visit www.iclc.org.au/foundation

(Main image credit: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

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