THE Queensland Government will spend more than $155,000 training 500 frontline workers to better respond to domestic violence in the LGBTI community as activists scream out for help.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said the funding would be used to create resources to support training in 25 key sites right across Queensland.
“We know domestic and family violence affects all communities, including the LGBTIQ+ community,” Ms Farmer said.
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“That’s why projects like this are so important to ensure our frontline workers are equipped with the training and knowledge to identify these situations and know what steps to take to help victims.”
Ms Farmer announced the funding on Wednesday and said the Queensland AIDS Council would deliver the new training program statewide.
“Queensland AIDS Council has a strong track record in health promotion, education and information sharing programs and they play a leading role in the LGBTIQ+ community, making them the ideal organisation for us to partner with on this project,” she said.
Ms Farmer said the new program, titled “Queer Without Fear – Domestic and Family Violence in the LGBITQ+ Community” would see content developed online and face-to-face.
“We want to equip frontline workers to recognise domestic and family violence in the LGBTIQ+ community and respond to perpetrators, victims and their children,” she said.
“This project will focus on training staff in the domestic and family violence sector as well as other relevant professions so they know what to do when faced with these situations.”
Queensland AIDS Council Executive Director Michael Scott said the project was a recommendation of the Not Now, Not Ever report.
“It is wonderful that the department is funding training to upskill the sector, as previous research has shown that workers are dedicated to working with LGBTIQ community members, but previously felt ill equipped to do so,” Mr Scott said.
“This project will be invaluable in supporting staff across the DV sector and the whole LGBTI community.”
It comes as activists call for more appropriate and targeted support services for gay victims of domestic violence.
Phil Browne from Brisbane’s LGBTIQ Action Group told ABC News domestic violence was under-reported in the LGBTI community.
“We’re all aware that domestic violence is quite an issue within the general community, but it can be more so within the LGBTI community, and it is under-reported,” Browne said.
“Historically relations between LGBTI people and police have been quite chequered at times.
“Under the Joh Bjelke-Peterson era there was a lot of damage done to LGBTI people and the relationship with the police service.”
Browne said gay sex acts were punishable by up to 14 years in jail right up until 1991.
Senior Constable Ben Bjarnesen told the ABC officers were trying to build bridges with the LGBTI community and said specially trained liaison officers are available across the state.
“There’s tens of thousands of victims of domestic violence who aren’t being represented at the moment,” Senior Constable Bjarnesen said.
“If a community member wants to report something we can be their first point of contact as that sort of person who they know is going to be trained in LGBTI issues.
“They know that they’re not going to be judged, or treated poorly or anything like that.
“We need to start a conversation and get it happening between people their families, their friends, and get the understanding out there that it is a problem, it is happening and we all need to be aware it’s there.
“Once we’re aware it’s there, we can better respond to the issue.”