A QUEENSLAND policeman who fought for officers to march in uniform at the Brisbane Pride March has been shortlisted for two top awards in the state.
Michael Gardiner has been in the Queensland Police Service (QPS) for 26 years and works in the Explosive Ordinance Response.
“It’s fantastic (to be nominated). We had some really good support both internally within the service and LGBTI community with what we’re doing,” he told Star Observer.
“It’s a great honour to get recognised for that work.”
Gardiner did not know he was nominated until the QPCU people called to tell him. He was nominated for his work as the state coordinator of the volunteer QPS LGBTI Support Network.
Some of his achievements in the network include QPS involvement in International Day Against Homophobia and Transgender (IDAHOT) with the first rainbow flag raised outside the services headquarters by a trans officer, producing the QPS Diverse Gender Guide which promotes service policy revision, and gave input into the QPS Victims of Crime booklet with respect to LGBTI community.
Superintendent David Tucker of Community Contact Command provided a reference for Gardiner’s nomination, where he expressed his gratitude for his work.
“He has provided significant leadership and consistency to the members of the network, been innovative in thinking and put in significant time off duty supporting this program,” he said.
“The support network has always been about a cultural change led by the rank and file within the QPS. Mick has ensured that it was led by the junior staff and his enthusiasm has been contagious.”
There was not enough interest from police management to start an LGBTI network a few years ago when Gardiner first had the idea, but he said it was now possible with the the support of the Police Commissioner.
Gardiner said the network was important for LGBTI officers who might feel uncomfortable discussing their issues with someone is not also LGBTI.
“On the one side we offer the QPS strategies and ideas to move forward and create greater inclusion and acceptance,” Gardiner said.
“Then we have the support network: I came out late in life and didn’t handle it well, but I was lucky I had an amazing wife and I knew some gay police officers who helped me through a trying time. The idea is that an LGBTI police officer can turn to me, as an ear to listen to them or a shoulder to cry on.”
“The fear I always had is if you have police officers who are in regional or rural areas who don’t know another gay officers, they have this network.”
The QPS LGBTI network has also been nominated in Brisbane Pride’s The Queen’s Ball Awards Gala in the Community Support Group of the Year.
The Everyday Hero award winners will be announced on June 10.