The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby has expressed concerns about the state anti-corruption watchdog’s failure to take into account the needs of the LGBTQI community.

The Lobby made the submission recently to the Victorian Parliament’s Integrity and Oversight Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the performance of the state’s integrity agencies.

“If the LGBTQI community are to have any faith in IBAC’s [Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission] ability to investigate police misconduct, IBAC must take proper account of the particular needs of the LGBTQI community, explain the complaints system to our community and ensure that we are supported throughout the complaints process. We have no evidence that IBAC is doing this,” said Nevena Spirovska and Maxim Thomas, co-convenors, VGLRL.

The Lobby cited the example of Operation Lynd – IBAC’s investigation into the police conduct in the raid on the Hares and Hyenas bookshop and the injury caused to event promoter Nik Dimopoulos.

IBAC claimed it had engaged with the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality in connection with Operation Lynd. “The engagement did not, as the report asserts, support community understanding of IBAC’s obligations and processes regarding independent oversight of Victoria Police.”

 “We are also concerned that IBAC reports into police misconduct are seldom made public… the difficulty around the secrecy provisions in the IBAC Act, which allows some information to dribble out into the public arena through the media, but prevents the public from scrutinising IBAC – and police misconduct – by not releasing full reports or findings,” VGLRL said.

The submissions pointed to a Police Accountability Project report that said some Police Complaints Clinics in Kensington and Flemington were no longer recommending that members of the public make complaints to IBAC. “If members of the public, particularly LGBTQI people, are advised by lawyers to not make complaints to IBAC regarding police misconduct due to the failings of IBAC enumerated above, we do not have a proper picture of – or a proper process of resolving – complaints of police misconduct in Victoria.”

In a report published in 2018, IBAC had recommended that the agency as well as Victoria police take into account the needs of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQI people, when handling complaints against police corruption and misconduct. The Lobby said that the recommendations were yet to be implemented.

“Our community has been damaged by police misconduct, and we implore you to consider this when inquiring into the performance of IBAC,” the VGLRL submission said.

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