Every year on 17 May, communities around the world commemorate IDAHOBIT Day – the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia.
Created in 2004 to draw attention to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBTI people internationally, IDAHOBIT is an opportunity for organisations and communities to celebrate LGBTI people and reaffirm a commitment to zero tolerance.
Fiona Pole is a Case Manager within VincentCare’s LGBTI portfolio. She works with young LGBTI clients at our Northern Communty Hub in Glenroy and is “proud to work for an organisation that recognises an ‘I treat everyone the same’ approach doesn’t always work.
“The needs of LGBTI clients differ somewhat from non LGBTI clients. For example, people will be aware of the marriage equality postal survey last year, but may not be aware of the significant negative impact it had on the LGBTI community. There was a spike in mental health problems for LGBTI people and young people experiencing homelessness.
My role is to support LGBTI clients and help them access specialist LGBTI organisations. For example, I recently helped a trans client to access Equinox Gender Diverse Health Centre to ensure they receive appropriate and informed support to help them manage their transition.
In the same way that we are sensitive to clients’ cultural needs, we need to be sensitive to members of the LGBTI community as well, and understand what may be going on for them. Simple things like displaying a rainbow flag, having dedicated LGBTI workers, and including supportive statements on organisational materials all help to build the confidence of potential clients in VincentCare. It’s really helpful if our staff have a broad understanding of the LGBTI community and some knowledge of specialist LGBTI or LGBTI-friendly organisations.
We visit organisations that support the LGBTI community and everywhere we go we are told the same thing “We have high numbers of LGBTI homeless people coming through our doors but we are unsure where to refer them”. Through the networking we’ve been doing, they know they can refer people to VincentCare. So far, we have received nothing but very positive feedback about the efforts of VincentCare to provide an inclusive service to our LGBTI clients, particularly because we are the first Victorian faith based organisation to work towards Rainbow Tick Accreditation.
There is still a lot of work to be done – especially around providing culturally safe crisis accommodation for this community and, in particular, for trans people – but VincentCare is leading the way in this sector.