Many inspirational and hardworking LGBTIQ+ Victorians, allies and supporters participated in the LGBTIQ+ Equality Roadshow.

Achievements

The Roadshow empowered a great number of LGBTIQ+ Victorians to connect with their communities and supporters. The LGBTI Equality Roadshow originally visited 29 regional and rural communities and had more than 220 engagement activities, with more than 2,500 attendees.

This was followed by a Statewide Community of Practice with more than 80 regional and rural LGBTIQ+ leaders, and then a series of Regional Community of Practice gatherings. The roadshow also achieved successes in generating cultural and systemic changes in rural and regional communities, including:

  • A clear demonstration of the Victorian Government’s commitment to combatting discrimination against LGBTIQ+ communities and promoting LGBTIQ+ inclusion across the state
  • Mainstream services and community activities becoming more informed, supportive, welcoming and accessible for LGBTIQ+ people
  • Increased awareness and support of sexual and gender diversity amongst communities and mainstream services across Victoria
  • Shifting the assumption that LGBTIQ+ people from rural and regional communities need to move to Melbourne or another urban centre to live safe and rewarding lives

The final phase of the Roadshow is the Rainbow Ready Roadmap, a resource that will bring together all the experience, stories and best practices of LGBTIQ+ rural and regional Victorians. That resource is currently being co-designed and piloted and will be launched later in 2021.

Outcomes

The Roadshow has led to the following outcomes in the towns visited:

  • 90% of towns had local government Councillors commit to supporting LGBTIQ+ inclusion during their terms
  • 5 local councils committed to incorporating LGBTIQ+ communities into their Diversity Plans, with other councils reviewing their diversity plans, protocols and promotional materials;
  • At least 13 LGBTIQ+ working groups were formed in communities. Members included representatives from councils, mainstream health providers, Victoria Police, community organisations and LGBTIQ+ people;
  • 3 Pride sporting games were held in Roadshow towns following the Roadshow. Their model was shared to empower other communities to hold similar games;
  • 23 Inclusion plans were created with the local community featuring initiatives that could be initiated within six months of the Roadshow visiting;
  • Switchboard Victoria, a community organisation providing support to LGBTIQ+ people and their allies, were able to establish regional ambassadors;
  • All-gender toilet signs were implemented on the Hume Highway through VicRoads, at Horsham Secondary College, East Gippsland Water and Barwon Water;
  • An LGBTIQ + position was created in a mainstream organisation (Headspace Horsham); and
  • The launch of a Gender Service at Gateway Health in Wodonga providing support, information and referral for trans and gender diverse young people, with this model shared across Victoria.

Local stories from the Roadshow

  • One community advocate, an older trans woman, spent a week with the Commissioner and Roadshow team as the LGBTIQ+ Equality Roadshow travelled through the Goldfields, Grampians and Wimmera regions. This included her hometown of Stawell. After a week of attending workshops, community dinners and community inclusion planning sessions, this advocate cried, telling everyone, "I feel like I've come home. I've lived here, however I've realised that I felt like I never really belonged. Now I do, I can't believe it".
  • A Health Promotion Officer was asked what he wanted after the LGBTIQ+ Equality Roadshow left his small rural community - a town that had a recent history of publicly homophobic incidents . They responded "That it doesn't feel like I'm the only one around here who is working for local LGBTI inclusion". At the end of a community inclusion planning session where every mainstream stakeholder in town committed to publicly support a local LGBTIQ+ support group for young people, they broke down with tears of relief. "I can't believe I'm not the only one that cares about this".
  • A parent attended an LGBTIQ+ Equality Roadshow session and shared a harrowing tale of the lack of local service options and understanding of their transgender child's needs. After being linked with the appropriate supports, this parent cried, "This will save my child's life". A few months later this parent said, "The Roadshow saved my child's life, and changed my household forever. It was like the [State] Government, someone, was finally listening. It's given me confidence to keep on asking for what my family needs".
  • We spoke with an older man, a publican, and asked him why he’d attended an LGBTIQ+ equality workshop. He told us his reason: “I refuse to be ignorant”.
  • We met two government workers who had sat next to each other at the office for years. It was only upon going to an LGBTIQ+ equality workshop that was part of the roadshow that they realised they both had gay sons, and had experienced challenging periods when their sons were coming out. Through their courage in taking part in the roadshow, they found the building blocks for a support system within their own workplaces.