The Victorian Government has announced it will spend $15 million in next week’s state budget to create Australia’s first Pride Centre.

The centre will be based in Melbourne’s CBD, however the final design and location will be agreed upon in consultation with the LGBTI community.

The government plans to use the centre as a hub for LGBTI groups and organisations, as well as a space for advisory, health, and support services catering to the state’s sex and gender diverse community.

Gender and sexuality commissioner Ro Allen announced an initial $50,000 feasibility study in October last year, the results of which are set to be released next week.

Now that the study has finished, Allen said the money is on the table.

“We still need to build the business case which will help decide the location and details but we’ve put the state government’s leadership on the table,” Allen told the Star Observer.

“Community involvement is essential, and it’s how I roll – we don’t do anything in isolation.

“There are 120 groups we’ve consulted with so far who were surveyed and more than 40 people we’ve spoken to face-to-face, and the majority of people said this is something we need.”

Allen believes the centre will be an important collaborative space for groups and organisations to work alongside each other.

“A lot of these groups run out of kitchens and don’t have the resources, and there’s a lot of work we need to do,” Allen said.

“We already have great collaboration between groups, this will just give us the benefit of sharing meeting rooms and photocopiers.”

The state budget will also include $6.4 million in funding towards Monash Health’s Gender Dysphoria Clinic, a service providing critical support to trans and gender diverse Victorians.

This will complement the funding given to the Royal Children’s Hospital last year towards gender dysphoria treatment for children aged 5 to 17.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley said the next step for the Pride Centre will be speaking with those in the community to flesh out the details.

“The centre will bring the LGBTI community together, to share ideas and support each other,” he told the Star Observer.

“It will be an opportunity for community groups to celebrate equality and diversity.

“The next step will be to consult with health providers and the LGBTI community on what services should be in the centre and where’s best for it to be located.”

Many community groups and organisations have already expressed their support for the Pride Centre including the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC), who sold its main site late last year and is currently in the process of looking for a new location.

Co-convenor of the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) Sean Mulcahy said the government’s investment in the centre is one that will require ongoing support.

“The 15 million is a fantastic upfront set-up fee for the Pride Centre, but it will require ongoing investment by the government and other community organisations,” he told the Star Observer.

“But this is a clear show of intent from them that they want to create a space the whole LGBTI community can use.

“It’s also exciting that the government has indicated it intends for the centre to be housed in the CBD, a key point of access for people living all over the city as well as in regional Victoria.

“Safe spaces are incredibly important in the face of increasing homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia on our streets, in our workplaces, and in our schools.”

According to BuzzFeed, Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the centre is intended to be bigger than San Francisco’s LGBT Community Centre and will showcase LGBTI history, and offer free health and support services.

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