Shepparton News

Flying the flag for LGBTIQA+ community

- By Rosa Ritchie

A new advisory committee will strive to ensure the voices of LGBTIQA+ community members are heard by decision-makers at Greater Shepparton City Council, after an inaugural group of community representa­tives was appointed on Tuesday.

Committee member Georgina Poort, who was also serving as vice president of Goulburn Valley Pride, said she previously felt council supported the LGBTIQA+ community ‘‘from afar’’, and the formation of the committee showed it was ‘‘willing to grow and change’’.

‘‘The biggest thing is being invited into the council space,’’ she said.

‘‘I’ve always felt as a queer person I’ve been the person who has to go and knock on someone’s door, whereas this time it felt that — metaphoric­ally speaking — the door had opened for us.’’

The Greater Shepparton Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgende­r, Intersex, Queer, Asexual and other sexuality, sex and gender diverse (LGBTIQA+) Advisory Committee will support and inform the council on behalf of the community.

The collective knowledge and experience of committee members will provide insight to decision-making and ensure inclusive practices across the city.

Committee member Lachlan Slade is an accredited mental health social worker who works mostly with the LGBTIQA community.

Mx Slade said the mental health challenges experience­d by LGBTIQA community members in the Goulburn Valley were one of the most important issues to be addressed.

‘‘Almost all the time, these mental health challenges have roots in homophobia, transphobi­a, or biphobia, and have flow-on effects to homelessne­ss, family violence, and all sorts of social issues,’’ he said. Simple measures such as providing gender-neutral toilets and raising the rainbow flag would make LGBTIQA people feel welcomed and supported in the Goulburn Valley community, Mx Slade said, and improve mental health as a result.

Having grown up in Shepparton, Mx Slade has seen plenty of progress when it came to gender- and sexuality-based discrimina­tion — but there is more work to be done.

‘‘I’ve moved throughout country Victoria, and I think we’ve got a hell of a lot of strength here in Greater Shepparton,’’ he said.

‘‘We are known for the diversity of our community in many ways and that’s no exception when it

I’VE ALWAYS FELT AS A QUEER PERSON I’VE BEEN THE PERSON WHO HAS TO GO AND KNOCK ON SOMEONE’S DOOR, WHEREAS THIS TIME IT FELT THAT — METAPHORIC­ALLY SPEAKING — THE DOOR HAD OPENED FOR US. — GEORGINA POORT

comes to sex, gender and sexuality.’’

City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the council was focused on creating a welcoming environmen­t for LGBTIQA people, to ensure their voices were valued, heard and respected.

‘‘I have no doubt this committee will ensure we achieve and maintain this into the future,’’ she said.

The nine advisory committee members are: Deb Chumbley, Leigh Bamford, Riley Millington, Lachlan Slade, Diane Baglin, Dayna James, Neha Samar, Georgina Poort and Daniel Gardner.

They will serve a one-year term from August 17, 2021, to August 23, 2022.

 ??  ?? Public pride: LGBTIQA+ Advisory Committee member Georgina Poort would like Greater Shepparton City Council to fly the rainbow flag 365 days a year.
Public pride: LGBTIQA+ Advisory Committee member Georgina Poort would like Greater Shepparton City Council to fly the rainbow flag 365 days a year.

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