Shed talk put in place

Shed talk put in place

A Lismore man has called on national depression initiative beyondblue to come to grips with what constitutes homophobia after making two separate complaints about postings on mental health forum The Shed Online.

David Willis told the Star Observer following his recent correspondence with beyondblue he feels the organisation does not grasp the impact disapproving remarks about homosexuality can have on same-sex attracted men accessing the site.

“It’s a well-intentioned site but experience shows [beyondblue] just don’t get the perspective of a gay man who might be accessing the site in rural New South Wales and reading all these negative comments,” he said.

“I’m a little disappointed that they’ve missed the point.”

Willis wrote to the organisation on December 30 complaining about comments he found “homophobic” on the site. Shed Online moderators later removed them at beyondblue’s request.

Weeks later, however, Willis said he found more comments on the site and wrote another letter of complaint on January 20.
“This is something the moderators should be picking up,” he said.

Site users can report abuse and contact moderators when they believe inappropriate comments have been made.

“The problem with targeting the online abuse is that it needs to be reported by the user,” Willis said.

“I think to ask victims to report homophobia is to ask a lot.”

Beyondblue deputy CEO Nicole Highet said the organisation had been in touch with Shed Online moderators each time offending comments had been reported and the comments had been removed.

Highet also said guidelines for moderators had been amended and beyondblue had “reinforced its expectations” of monitors since the complaints.

“It’s a live website. These are things that go with a live website, and we have gone back to the moderators and reinforced our expectations and we were confident they were at a point they could make sure the level of discussion remains appropriate,” Highet told the Star Observer.

“The whole aim of this type of website is to encourage flow of discussion without it being seen as being overly controlling. When you allow people to have a discussion, there’s always a risk inappropriate postitions could be made.

“It’s part of our role to monitor [and] if we’re informed, as we were here, that something is considered to be inappropriate, we inform the moderators where possible and pull things.”

Highet said beyondblue has created a new role for a GLBTI project officer to specifically look at issues facing the community. The new staff member is due to start next week.

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