Show of support

By Benalla Ensign

The Benalla Community came together and celebrated International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) last Thursday.

Members from Benalla Police, Benalla Rural City Council, Benalla Health, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Benalla community came together in a show of support for our LGBTI friends, family, and colleagues with everyone wearing a splash of rainbow.

More than 45 people from the community gathered in front of a rainbow-themed mural painted by Melbourne-based artist ‘‘PACHI’’ on the day to participate in a community photograph.

Victoria Police’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) from Benalla, Senior Constable Fran Gottschling said the amount of people participating in the photograph was a bright symbol of support to the local LGBTI community and represents an ongoing commitment to work together to promote inclusion and diversity in Benalla.

‘‘Working with Benalla Rural City Council’s Amanda Aldous, Benalla Health’s Sue Wilson, DHHS representative Kate Daniel and Community representative Paul Watson was very exciting,’’ Snr Const Gottschling said.

‘‘Everyone came together with a common goal to arrange this event.

‘‘The support from the respective organisations was tremendous and everything fell into place.

‘‘In addition to my operational duties, as a GLLO, my role also includes working on bridging the gap between LGBTI communities and police, (and) building trust and confidence in the community to report crime and seek assistance.’’

A representative from the DHHS said it was purposefully diverse and supported the inclusion of LGBTI staff through their LGBTI inclusion plan and by encouraging staff to take part in celebrating significant days, such as IDAHOBIT.

DHHS acknowledged that by ensuring a diverse workforce, the department’s policies, programs and service delivery was strengthened.

Benalla Rural City Mayor Don Firth said the council was proud to support the LGBTI community.

‘‘That the community can come together to celebrate IDAHOBIT is a great demonstration that Benalla cares about its LGBTI community, and that this is a safe place for everyone,’’ Cr Firth said.

‘‘Everyone benefits from diversity and from living within a diverse community.

‘‘The council actively and fully supports community members, as well as council staff, volunteers, suppliers and stakeholders who identify as being part of the LGBTI community.’’

Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan said she was proud to have the opportunity to join the Benalla community during IDAHOBIT.

‘‘I congratulate Benalla people for proudly and publicly supporting their LGBTIQ friends and family,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘I acknowledge the important contribution made by the LGBTIQ community and take this opportunity to call out discrimination against them.’’

●If you would like to know more about the role of Victoria Police GLLOs, visit the Victoria Police website,