The Victorian Government on Thursday announced that Todd Fernando will be the new Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley announced that Fernando, who has been the acting commissioner for the last four months will officially be the second person to fill the role. 

“I am really honoured to be appointed as the second commissioner and I am really excited to build on the legacies of Ro Allen who is now Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner,” Fernando told Star Observer.

A Queer Wirandjuri Person

A descendant of the Kalarie peoples of the Wiradjuri nation, Fernando who identifies as queer, was an academic for eight years prior to stepping into the role as commissioner.

“My passion for human rights is something that I have thought about…it all sparked when I was seeking information when I was 16 years old trying to figure out what it means to be a queer Wirandjuri person,” Fernando said.

He has a particular interest in the health of queer and indigenous Australians and experience in delivering reform social policy and cultural safety frameworks in both the public and private sectors.

In 2018, along with other members of the Aboriginal rainbow community, Fernando co-founded Koorie Pride Victoria, an advocacy organisation that campaigns for the social inclusion and advancement of Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ Aboriginal community.

Growing Up In Regional Australia

Growing up in regional Australia himself, Fernando wants to help make it easier LGBTQIA+ people growing up in rural areas to explore their identity.  

“I know that feeling of needing to move from a country town to a city in order to connect and understand my sexuality and it is unfortunate we still have many community members feel that journey is a must.”

“I’m really keen on supporting LGBTQIA+ people where they are and make country towns places where queer people can still exist in.”

The newly appointed Commissioner said he was excited to lead the implementation of the Victorian Government 10 year LGBTQIA+ strategy.

“It is a strategy that will really look at fighting for the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, reforming social policy and creating frameworks that will only lead the Victorian government to be a more inclusive and welcoming face for LGBTQIA+ people.”

Rainbow Jab Week

With the pandemic still ongoing in Victoria, Fernado said he will work towards getting more jabs in the arms of LGBTQIA+ people and promote the support of mental health services like Switchboard and Rainbow Doordash to support members of the community who are struggling during lockdown.

 “Whenever we go into a lockdown I always think of young queer people who are at home with parents who might not accept them, so we really need to support them during these times.”

“We also have a rainbow vaccination week coming up and that’s a space to ensure we are all protected against COVID-19 and hopefully that means we can open up and reconnect as a broader community ready for pride.”

A date for the rainbow vaccination week has yet to be decided, but Fernado said he hopes to announce it soon.

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