By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong has moved to implement a national “best practice” model on recognising its LGBTI community.
The council plans to host community consultations to learn about community views, refer to services support on its website and implement an inclusion audit of its own workplace.
Cr Matthew Kirwan said the consultation would capture the views of the LGBTI and broader Greater Dandenong community.
“This is no different to the approach we take towards senior citizens, people with a disability, our indigenous community or people seeking asylum.”
He noted one in 10 Australians identified as LGBTI, and were facing significant discrimination, violence and unacceptance.
They faced higher rates of depression and suicide – which could be countered by greater inclusion and recognition, Cr Kirwan said.
“This council has been consistent and courageous in fighting racial discrimination because we are a caring council – this is just a different form of discrimination.”
In opposition, Cr Tim Dark labelled the report a “Trojan Horse”, a “ramming rod” for “radical social change” that didn’t represent Greater Dandenong ratepayers.
The “ludicrous” ‘safe workplace’ audit at Greater Dandenong was a program to stop “people’s feelings … being hurt”.
Cr Sean O’Reilly agreed with the recommendations on the proviso that the council did not “go down rabbit holes”.
“There’s only so much local government can do in this area as far as affecting outcomes for the LGBTI community.
“I don’t mind these exploratory studies as long as they are limited.”
Cr O’Reilly said his feeling was that the LGBTI community wanted equal, not special treatment – especially with council services.
He suggested Council’s Young Leaders group could create an awareness campaign along the lines of the past campaign ‘Racism. It stops with me.’
Cr Roz Blades, in support of the motion, said councillors should speak of people’s needs not ideological agendas.
“We’ve a group of people that need some representation, need some help and need some common sense – something that’s sadly lacking in government.”