Young LGBTI people in Bendigo will celebrate community and diversity at a brand new inclusive event this September.

The Rainbow Ball is being organised by Bendigo police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers, along with several community groups and MarShere Dance Studios, with young people in the community taking control of the planning, the Bendigo Advertiser has reported.

“The youth have very much taken a bit of control,” said Sergeant Greg Gentry.

“We envisaged something like the formal Ball in the Mall but they’ve said it’s not really what they want and come up with another format.

“It’s not going to be a formal ball, it’s more of a celebration of youth and a community. The focus is on the kids aged between 16 and 25.”

The Rainbow Ball will be an alcohol-free and drug-free event.

Gentry said LGBTI young people can feel excluded from events like balls and formals because of cisnormative and heteronormative expectations.

“[This] an opportunity for kids who are watching schoolmates do formal balls but won’t do it [themselves] because it’s not in their comfort zone, they can’t do it with the person of their choice or in the dress of their choice,” he said.

“These kids don’t want to be the only kids at the ball to have a same-sex partner and this is an opportunity for them to do that in a non-judgemental, safe space.”

Victoria Police this week released a new report showing that many young gay people do not trust the police and are afraid to report crimes.

Almost 95 per cent of the young people surveyed said they had been victims of hate crimes, but only 10 per cent of the crimes had been reported.

Police have already committed to cultural change and improvement to better their relationship with the LGBTI community.

More details of Bendigo’s Rainbow Ball will become available closer to the event, set to be held on September 28 at Ulumbarra Theatre.

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