The City of Banyule has emerged as the most LGBTQI inclusive council in Victoria. Banyule, includes the north-eastern Melbourne suburbs of Heidelberg, Ivanhoe and Bellfield and topped the Victorian Local Councils Equality Index by providing a range of inclusive services for its LGBTQI community. 

Surprisingly, high profile councils like the councils of Melbourne City, Yarra and Stonnington performed poorly on the Equality Index. 

An Inclusive Council

“The fact that we topped the Equality Index is a great outcome for the Banyule community. Banyule prides itself on being a truly inclusive place and we love working in partnership with our residents, business and services providers to keep building on that,” Mayor of Banyule Rick Garotti told Star Observer

“At Banyule, we are really focused on making sure all people have great opportunities for both economic and social participation. Our various initiatives, from our awarding-winning Inclusive Employment Program to our unique partnership with local traders for something like our QWere St event (during Midsumma Pride) are truly unique and have a major impact,” the Mayor said. 

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 The Equality Index was prepared by the Victorian Pride Lobby. The Lobby had run a Rainbow Votes Campaign, with an aim to get more LGBTQI persons elected to the 77 councils in Victoria where elections were held in October 2020. Around 29 openly LGBTQI councillors were elected to 20 local councils in the state. 

Going Beyond Flying Rainbow Flags

The Equality Index was based on the councils achieving five parameters – Rainbow Tick Accreditation, LGBTQI Advisory committees and action plans, the flying of the Rainbow flag on council buildings and participation in the Pride or Midsumma Pride events.

Banyule, which does not have a single openly LGBTQI councillor, was the only council in Victoria that met all the parameters. According to Banyule council, it had come out with its LGBTQI action plan in 2014 and appointed its first LGBTQI advisory committee the same year. The council flies the Rainbow flag on all days of importance to the community and participates in the Midsumma Pride events. The council’s ‘In Home Aged Support Team’ has achieved Rainbow Tick accreditation and also runs programs for older LGBTQI people and the youth. 

“Banyule takes the record as the most LGBTIQA+ inclusive council in Victoria. Other councils can look up to them and learn from their example,” said Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor, VPL. 

Councils Look To Make Changes

Other councils are now working towards supporting their LGBTQI residents with inclusive services. Last month Yarra City Council members voted to adopt an LGBTQI Strategy. The Monash City Council has also voted to set up an LGBTQI advisory committee and action plan. 

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 The councils that met at least four out of the five parameters were Darebin and Whittlesea. Yarra and Moreland City councils, which had each elected four openly LGBTQI councils have just achieved three and two of the criterias respectively. Melbourne City council has met only two of the criteria, as it flies the rainbow flag and participates in Midsumma Pride march. 

How Does Your Council Fare On The Equality Index?

We take a look at how the  inner and Greater Melbourne suburbs have fared on the Equality Index. 

5/5

  • Banyule

4/5 

  • Darebin
  • Whittlesea

3/5 

  • Port Phillip 
  • Maribyrnong
  • Moonee Valley 

2/5

  • Melbourne
  • Stonnington
  • Yarra 
  • Brimbank
  • Hobsons Bay
  • Moreland
  • Whitehorse
  • Greater Dandenong
  • Knox
  • Maroondah
  • Melton
  • Wyndham

1/5 

  • Boroondara
  • Kingston
  • Manningham 
  • Monash
  • Hume
  • Mornington Peninsula

0/5 

  • Bayside
  • Glen Eira
  • Nillumbik Shire
  • Yarra Ranges Shire

Banyule Mayor Garotti had an important message for other councils about the importance of making the council incisive for everyone.

“We are glad to lead the way and encourage other councils, businesses and communities to join us. Our communities are stronger and richer for everyone, when everyone is included, that’s for sure.”

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