Lifestyle

Flying the flag loud and proud at Echuca police

By Ivy Jensen

ECHUCA police station flew the rainbow flag yesterday to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Echuca’s Gay, Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) Senior Constable Michelle Neil said the day was about public awareness.

‘‘For the community to know that Victoria Police are supportive of the gay, lesbian and transgender and intersex community,’’ she said.

Snr Constable Neil is one of 500 GLLOs around Victoria, starting in the role about 18 months ago.

With specific knowledge about LGBTI communities, she can help by providing discrete, non-judgemental advice and assistance in the reporting of crimes as well as expert advice and assistance to police investigators.

To coincide with IDAHOBIT, Victoria Police yesterday launched a report that provides insight into police and young LGBTI people’s perceptions of each other.

Survey results showed while most police had a good knowledge of appropriate language when speaking about LGBTI issues, there was a clear opportunity for greater training to officers on LGBTI issues to increase their confidence in engaging with these communities.

Fifty-eight per cent of the young LGBTI people surveyed said they did not believe police understand young LGBTI people’s issues and there were mixed levels of trust in police on various measures.

Almost 95 per cent of young LGBTI respondents had experienced some sort of discriminatory abuse in their lifetime, though only half indicated that they would report a prejudice-motivated crime to police.

Snr Constable Neil said she hoped people in the LGBTI community would feel comfortable speaking to her about any issues that may have.

‘‘All officers, including myself as a GLLO, are all very supportive and very approachable,’’ she said.