Victoria Police are expanding their internal training on hate crimes this month and have just released a documentary showing LGBTI advocates working with law enforcement cadets.
They are also updating how they collect information from police reports of prejudice-motivated crimes (PMC) to better record these incidents.
Many crimes motivated by prejudice still go unreported, according to Victoria’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs), including harassment, verbal abuse, threats to destroy or damage property, and in more serious cases, physical violence.
Victoria Police GLLOs are urging LGBTI people who have experienced hate crimes to share their experiences on various public campaigns such as No To Homophobia to increase community confidence and empower victims to contact police.
“It is about the collective responsibility of everyone to speak out and reject violence in any form,” GLLO state co-ordinator Sgt Electra Wellens said.
Last month, Victoria Police launched a new film documenting the Community Encounters Academy program, giving an insight into how the LGBTI community and other communities were helping train police and protective services officers.
Transgender rights advocate Sally Goldner was involved in the program and the documentary, and told the Star Observer the program had enabled change from the inside out.
“I think like many queer people I have had problems with the police in the past but it seems that there was a genuine change in culture wanting to realise there was a range of possibilities to deal with situations instead of one size fits all,” Goldner said.
“Whilst definitely more people have met a trans person or for that matter gay and lesbian, there’s still a lot who haven’t and every time someone sits down face-to-face, in person with another person and hears their story, it’s a very powerful difference it can make.”
It is unclear how many LGBTI people are affected by hate crimes since PMC statistics specifically on the basis of sexuality or gender identity are not yet publicly available since the force began collecting the data in 2011.
The new training and data collecting is part of the Victorian Police’s Prejudice Motivated Crime Strategy which was launched in July 2011 for crimes committed on the basis of a particular characteristic, such as religion, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation.
INFO: The Victim Support Agency can be reached by calling 1800 819 817.
WATCH: Victoria Police’s Community Encounters short documentary below.