Inner City Legal Centre calls for recognition that LGBTQI community is vulnerable to domestic violence.

On the 4th of November, the NSW Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) and its Safe Relationships Project (SRP), the ICLC’s specialist domestic violence service for LGBTIQ people, presented the experiences of the LGBTIQ community with domestic violence at the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee Inquiry into Domestic Violence in Australia.

ICLC Director Daniel Stubbs stated at the Senate Committee hearing that “domestic violence occurs at the same or similar rates within the NSW LGBTIQ community as it does within non-LGBTIQ relationships; however it is often overlooked or misunderstood.”

Stubbs continued, “Because of a range of barriers faced by the LGBTIQ community and the lack of understanding of LGBTIQ domestic violence, there is a serious lack of support services available to assist those in need, especially LGBTIQ domestic violence survivors, which needs to be addressed.”

The ICLC made a number of key recommendations in its written submission to the Inquiry to assist with increasing the range and level of support provided to the LGBTIQ community escaping domestic violence, including that:

  • Further research is funded and carried out to better understand the unique experiences, dynamics and impact of domestic violence for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer peoples.
  • Training, resources and education be provided to mainstream domestic violence support services, Legal Aid, community organisations, health providers and police to better identify and respond to the needs of LGBTIQ people.
  • Funding is increased for the ICLC’s Safe Relationship Program to ensure legal services to the NSW LGBTIQ community escaping domestic violence can be provided and promoted.
  • Appropriate domestic violence support services such as telephone counselling, legal services and other support services for the LGBTIQ community, be promoted and extended, especially in rural and remote areas.
  • There is a serious need to improve the availability of emergency accommodation for LGBTIQ people and their children escaping domestic violence.
  • AVOs should be made enforceable Australia-wide.
  • A person’s status as a victim of domestic violence should be a protected attribute under the Sex Discrimination Act and Fair Work Act to offer greater protection to both LGBTIQ and heterosexual people who are victims of domestic violence.
  • Perpetrator Programs must be safe and appropriate and relevant for LGBTIQ people.

View the ICLC’s submission (Submission Number 116) to the Inquiry here.

The importance of the need to better understand and address LGBTIQ domestic violence is highlighted in a number of de-identified case studies. In one, a man in a same-sex relationship living in a regional community was physically assaulted by his partner but police dropped the assault charges with an officer stating, “If you were a woman, it would be different”. In another, a woman who identifies as a lesbian was attacked by her partner in the workplace where they worked together. No action was taken by the workplace to address the incident, nor was any support provided. These examples indicate the need to provide not only better training for service providers and employers, but also the importance of ensuring that appropriate support services exist for LGBTIQ domestic violence survivors to that they can rebuild their lives.

About the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC)

The Inner City Legal Centre is a community legal centre based in Kings Cross, Sydney. ICLC provides legal advice and assistance for disadvantaged people experiencing domestic violence from our catchment area in family law, apprehended domestic violence orders (ADVOs) and apprehended violence orders (APVOs). The ICLC also provides specialist legal services to anyone in New South Wales who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ). In 2009 the ICLC established the SRP to meet the needs of LGBTIQ communities experiencing or escaping domestic violence. The SRP provides a court assistance scheme for LGBTIQ people seeking a domestic violence order, and is the only LGBTIQ legal service for victims of domestic violence in Australia. The SRP was also the winner of last week’s Law and Justice Foundation’s 2014 Community Legal Centre Justice Award.

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