Screen Shot 2020-04-19 at 10.44.24 am

Letter from LGBTIQ DFV Interagency to Minister Speakman

To: Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Dear Minister,

LGBTIQ Domestic and Family Violence Interagency

We are writing to you as the LGBTIQ Domestic and Family Violence Interagency, a group of community organisations and government agencies committed to improving access to support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and/or queer (LGBTIQ) people experiencing violence. The Interagency was created in 2001 in response to a large number of gay men presenting to St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst with domestic violence related injuries and no appropriate services to refer them to. Today the interagency aims to increase understanding of domestic and family violence and sexual assault within LGBTIQ communities, promote the exchange of information and good practice between organisations, and provide advice to agencies and services on how best to support LGBTIQ people and advocate for change.

It is estimated that one in ten Australians identify as LGBTIQ and about one in three LGBTIQ people have experienced violence from a partner or ex-partner in a past or present relationship. Research shows that LGBTIQ people are at a greater risk of experiencing family violence and childhood sexual assault than the general population and that one quarter of adult LGBTIQ people have experienced sexual assault. We know that transgender people are especially vulnerable to abuse. As a result, LGBTIQ people face higher rates of homelessness, mental health issues and suicidality than people in the general population.

Despite these alarming statistics, there remains a stark lack of funding for specialist LGBTIQ services to respond to the needs of LGBTIQ people experiencing violence and mainstream services often lack an understanding of LGBTIQ people’s unique experiences which explains the lack of LGBTIQ people accessing mainstream services. In addition, some religious based services uphold anti-discrimination exemptions which  may exclude people from their services.

The NSW Domestic and Family Violence Prevention and Early Intervention Strategy 2017-2021 recognises LGBTIQ people are at higher risk of experiencing domestic and family violence and that they should receive support that meets their needs. The NSW Sexual Assault Strategy 2018-2021 identifies that LGBTIQ people experience significant barriers to reporting sexual assault and accessing services. We urge the NSW Government to act on these strategies by:

  • Funding specialist LGBTIQ sexual, domestic and family violence services to develop and deliver community education, bystander programsand specialist support and interventions across NSW.
  • Funding specialist LGBTIQ services to provide support, training and resources to mainstream sexual, domestic and family violence services across NSW on how to provide safe, appropriate and inclusive responses for LGBTIQ people.
  • Supporting research into sexual, domestic and family violence in LGBTIQ communities on the prevalence rates of sexual assault, primary prevention initiatives and successful interventions.

Recommendations 1E, 2H and 2I of the NSW Women’s Alliance’s policy platform, A Safe State call for increased support for LGBTIQ people experiencing sexual, domestic and family violence.

The LGBTIQ DFV Interagency invites you to attend an interagency meeting to discuss how we can work together to ensure LGBTIQ people experiencing violence can access the support they need. Meetings have been scheduled on 21 April 2020 and 19 May 2020 for 2.30pm. Could you please confirm with the Convenor of the Interagency, Eloise Layard on 02 9206 2067 or [email protected] if you are available to attend one of these meetings?

Alternatively, could you please propose an alternative date and time at your office for us to send a delegation so that we may share with you the work that we have collectively been doing over the past decade and some recommendations for future actions.

We look forward to the opportunity to share our learnings with you on how to prevent, and improve support for, sexual, domestic and family violence perpetrated against LGBTIQ people.

Yours sincerely,

The NSW LGBTIQ Domestic and Family Violence Interagency

Interagency members who have signed onto this letter:

  • ACON
  • Twenty10
  • The Gender Centre Inc
  • Domestic Violence NSW
  • Women’s Safety NSW
  • Penrith Women’s Health Centre
  • Women’s and Girls’ Emergency Centre
  • West Connect Domestic Violence Services
  • Inner City Legal Centre
  • Women’s Legal Service NSW
  • South West Sydney Legal Centre
  • St Vincent’s Health Network – Sydney
  • South Eastern Local Health District
  • Uniting
  • Inner West Council
  • Dr Nicole Asquith, Western Sydney University