Committee advising on LGBTIQA+ issues
THROUGHOUT their most recent council planning phase, the City continued to receive feedback from the public on the need to improve inclusivity, and ensure no group is left behind.
City of Ballarat mayor Cr Daniel Moloney said this included making the region a better place to live for people in the LGBTIQA+ community.
Out of this planning phase has come a new 10-member LGBTIQA+ advisory community. Cr Moloney is not only the group’s chair, but the City’s first-ever openly gay councillor.
“We’ve come a long way since I was a teenager. I can walk around Ballarat and go to events with my male partner and it’s no big deal… but this is an opportunity to address inequality,” he said.
“The LGBTIQA+ community has been left behind and the stats are showing us that in terms of access to employment, access to health, the attitudes of some businesses, and general inclusiveness.”
Cr Moloney said many local businesses work to ensure all people can be themselves in their spaces, but not every venue is as welcoming, whether they realise it or not.
The committee will explore how to start conversations with the business community, and frontline staff, to improve this.
“They’re not only missing an opportunity to get a lot of people through their door, but to be an important, welcoming part of our community,” he said.
The committee will also look to ways sports clubs could become more inclusive and accepting, how to improve regional access to non-judgemental and specialist LGBTIQA+ healthcare, especially for transgender patients, and boost access to employment for LGBTIQA+ people.
Frolic Festival director Jay Morrison is a member of the diverse committee who applied to offer his personal and community advocacy experience to the role.
He said the advisory work closely aligns with what Frolic organisers try to achieve with their own festival.
“Growing up in rural Victoria in the 90s, I understand the impact of discrimination and exclusion, and how that can lead to significant impacts on health and wellbeing,” he said.
“I wanted to be involved and work with others to make sure that council services are more accessible, and that Ballarat is a safer and more inclusive place for the LGBTIQA+ community.
“While Ballarat is a much safer place than it used to be, there are still some key issues like community connection, visibility, and inclusion, and I think the work on the committee will help address those issues.”
Where problems or gaps are identified by the committee, they will work with council officers to solve them.
Cr Moloney said the City’s own policies around hiring a diverse workforce could be improved.