Melbourne City Council is looking for the “best way to consult LGBTQI communities on Council policies, plans and programs”.

A motion at the council meeting also asked the management to provide councillors with a briefing paper “about the purpose, scope and timing for a potential action plan addressing LGBTQI communities”.

The motion moved by Councillor Rohan Leppert and seconded by out councillor Jamal Hakim was unanimously passed by the council on March 15. The motion also noted the services and programs run by the City of Melbourne council for the LGBTQI committee.

The discussion in the council was in the context of the progress of the rainbow pledges signed by councillors, which included flying the rainbow flag on council buildings, participating in pride events, setting up an LGBTQI advisory committee, develop and implement an LGBTQI action plan and achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation for its services. 

The Rainbow Pledge

Nine out of the 11 elected Melbourne councillors had signed Victorian Pride Lobby’s Rainbow pledge before the council elections in 2020. The pledge also included flying the Rainbow flag and marching in the Pride march. The Lobby subsequently converted the pledge into the ‘Local Government Equality Index’. 

Councillor Leppert’s motion noted that Melbourne city council runs an entire gamut of services and programs for the LGBTQI community. This included its partnership and support for the annual Midsumma Pride march, the Melbourne International Queer Film Festival, community grants, grants for LGBTQI artists and the Arts House.

“The real heroes of the City of Melbourne’s services and programs are the LGBTQ staff of the City of Melbourne, whether in the Pride Network, or throughout the organisation, whose focus every day is designing and delivering inclusive public policy. They do an outstanding job,” Cr Leppert said during the council meeting. 

According to Cr Hakim, the motion followed the successful creation of the Inclusive Melbourne Strategy. “This strategy is the foundation of plans to ensure cultural safety for all aspects of our communities, including our LGBTIQA+ communities, said Hakim, adding that it was “an overarching strategic framework that paves the way to ensure cultural safety for everyone who lives, works, and visits our municipality.”

“The motion celebrates the tremendous amount of work that the Council does for LGBTIQA+ inclusion and safety, and calls on management to take the next steps to deliver on the Pride Lobby pledge initiatives that most Councillors signed up to as part of our election commitment. Importantly, it recognises that quality of services, and achieving equality is not binary, and requires a broad approach to cultural safety and inclusion, as underpinned by the Inclusive Melbourne Strategy.”

“It’s great to see City of Melbourne Councillors take the next steps to implement their commitments under the Rainbow Local Government Pledge. This win has come after over a year of the Victorian Pride Lobby writing to Councillors, making submissions and attending consultations. Thanks to City of Melbourne Councillors for listening, learning and committing to do more for its LGBTIQA+ communities,” Nevena Spirovska, Co-Convenor of Victorian Pride Lobby told Star Observer.

Beyond Scorecards

While noting the work done by the council, the motion noted that it was “important that the Council looks to measurable strategies and plans and not only be influenced by third party scorecards and accreditation.”

“We should always look to examples of successful services and programs elsewhere, but we do not need to outsource our conscience to third parties and one-size-fits-all accreditation programs,” said Cr Leppert, adding, “Signing up to accreditation programs which bundle all these groups into a single blancmange might be a useful way of seeking public acclaim for that tokenism, but it doesn’t do the serious work of developing inclusive policy.”

Hakim reiterated the point and said that merely using pledge as a scorecard “fails to recognise the qualitative work required to achieve true safety and inclusion for our LGBTIQA+ communities.”

“The Pledge and the work the lobby does however has an important place, as a foundation, and as part of a suite of programs that ensure we are supporting LGBTIQA+ members of our community in every way possible. That’s what we are doing at the City of Melbourne, because we know we have to keep moving forward and leading the way as part of our remit as a Capital City Council.”

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