VincentCare is on a journey to become Rainbow Tick accredited. Rainbow Tick is awarded to services that achieve the very highest standard of LGBTIQ inclusive practice.
At VincentCare, the push to undergo Rainbow Tick was championed by former Deputy CEO Dr Jane Daniels whose advocacy over a number of years resulted in the appointment of a designated staff member to coordinate the process.
What is Rainbow Tick?
Rainbow Tick accreditation is a way for an organisation to show their commitment to LGBTIQ pride, diversity and inclusion. A Rainbow Tick accredited service sends a message to their LGBTIQ clients that they will receive an informed and inclusive service from the moment they step through the door; and that LGBTIQ volunteers and staff will find a culturally safe and supportive workplace.
To receive accreditation, an organisation needs to meet the Rainbow Tick standards, which were developed in 2013 by GLHV (formerly Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria) and Quality Innovation Performance Limited (QIP). This involves embedding inclusive LGBTIQ practices across the organisation and ensuring they are sustainable in the long term.
In 2016, VincentCare recruited Jac Tomlins in the role of Project Coordinator, Gender and Sexuality to oversee the implementation of Rainbow Tick. VincentCare has a long history of providing services and advocating for people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage, including LGBTIQ people.
“LGBTIQ people are overrepresented in the homelessness population as a result of on-going discrimination, stigma and trauma,” said Jac. “We need to ensure that VincentCare is equipped to support LGBTIQ people, which means staff need to have an understanding of lived experience, and the knowledge and skills to provide LGBTIQ clients with the best possible service.”
Everyone at VincentCare, from Board to administrative staff, has embraced the decision to move towards more inclusive practice. It’s taken two years of hard work and commitment to make changes to every part of the organisation. Some key initiatives include:
- Providing professional development training for staff focusing on best-practice service delivery to different LGBTIQ cohorts.
- Enabling LGBTIQ clients to identify through Single Client Record and improving LGBTIQ data collection to help ensure their specific needs are met.
- Celebrating significant LGBTIQ events throughout the year, and supporting a range of LGBTIQ community organisations through annual memberships.
- Distributing a LGBTIQ Client Survey, analysing the results and responding to feedback and suggestions.
- Developing a comprehensive intranet resource of LGBTIQ services, groups, organisations, research and resources.
- Researching and writing the Gender and Sexuality: Inclusive Practice Guide, and providing staff with the opportunity to share and discuss their experiences in reflective practice sessions.
- Developing relationships and referral pathways through outreach with key LGBTIQ organisations.
- Distributing a regular newsletter to all staff and sharing LGBTIQ stories on social media.
- Participating in sector networks including the LGBTI Safe Housing Network and the Family Violence Forum.
In a client survey conducted in 2018, 95% of respondents agreed that they felt comfortable being open about their gender identity and sexuality and 100% agreed that they would tell other people that VincentCare is a good place if you’re LGBTIQ.
Creating an inclusive and supportive environment also includes providing a framework where LGBTIQ staff are comfortable to be open or ‘out’ about their gender identity or sexual orientation at work.
“At VincentCare, this is done by creating an inclusive culture with genuine bold leadership and policies and strategies that specifically recognise LGBTIQ people,” Jac said.
A number of initiatives have been put in place to support LGBTIQ staff at VincentCare, including:
- Creating an LGBTIQ Staff Group that meets regularly and provides support and networking.
- Celebrating LGBTIQ events including IDAHOBIT Day and Wear it Purple!
- Ensuring co-workers have a good understanding of the LGBTIQ community through professional development training.
- Providing access to specialist LGBTIQ counselling.
- Providing staff with the opportunity to be open about their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Jac said that while Rainbow Tick was important we mustn’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
“We’re not making these changes at VincentCare for Rainbow Tick. We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do by our clients, staff and volunteers.”
Find out more about VincentCare's LGBTIQ programs and services.