The Gillard Government must provide fund a peak national GLBTI advocacy body and include GLBTI issues in the Government’s social inclusion strategy, a federal Senator says.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the Government should properly resource the GLBTI community to combat social isolation, discrimination, harassment, violence and homelessness.
“There’s been such a spruiking from Julia Gillard, who since being Prime Minister has held the social inclusion portfolio, how important social inclusion is,” Hanson-Young told Southern Star.
“When you look at all the different types of organisations and interests groups there is not one supported peak body for the LGBTI community.
“It’s all being done on a very volunteer basis when every other special interest group the government deals with through social inclusion is given funding so they can have well resourced advocacy.”
Hanson-Young echoed calls from National LGBT Health Alliance executive director Gabi Rosenstreich that the Government needed to make a more serious financial investment in the GLBTI community’s future.
“It’s absolutely essential because experience shows that without a co-ordinated structure to share information and consult within the community sector it’s incredibly difficult to work effectively with the government, whether it be lobbying or working with officials,” Rosenstreich said.
“In the time the Alliance was founded community organisations lobbying the Government and opposition at times were getting feedback that it’s really difficult for the Government to work with the LGBT community because it’s very disparate, it’s very fragmented … and that is part of what motivated that led to the alliance being formed.”
Rosenstreich said there was still reticence among some members of parliament to support the GLBTI community.
“I would say that in 2010 in Australia there is still a perception by some politicians that it’s politically risky to be seen to be supporting issues around sexual orientation and gender identity and that makes it hard for us to get traction,” she said.
“I think those who are fearful of being seen as supportive underestimate the Australian public.”
The Alliance — which was given one-off government funding to lead the national Wear It With Pride campaign — does not receive ongoing government funding.
A recent re-analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows homosexual or bisexual Australian’s are four times more likely to have been homeless, twice as likely to have no contact with family, and more likely to smoke and have used illicit drugs than their heterosexual counterparts.
Statistics also showed homosexual and bisexual people were four times as likely to have attempted suicide.