While the world has come a long way in acceptance and equality, alarmingly violence is still inflicted on people, simply because of who they are.
According to the Australian Institute of Family Services, LGBTIQ+ people may face abuse and violence across the lifespan as a result of their gender or sexual identity, including from within their own families. A national survey found significant rates of young people had experienced abuse:
- 61 per cent of young people reported verbal abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;
- 18 per cent reported physical abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;
- 80 per cent reported the abuse occurred at school; and
- 24 per cent reported they had experienced verbal and physical abuse in the family home.
An initiative of the AIDS Council of NSW (ACON), the ‘Welcome Here’ project was originally started in 1998 as the Safe Place Project, in response to high levels of street based violence directed at the LGBTIQ+ community. The stickers let members of the LGBTIQ+ community know they could seek refuge if they were under the threat of violence.
ACON Chief Executive Officer Nicolas Parkhill stresses the importance of welcoming and inclusive environments , noting its positive effect on communities.
“ACON’s Welcome Here Project aims to support local businesses and organisations to create and promote environments that are visibly welcoming of LGBTIQ people. Environments that are inclusive helps strengthen the health and wellbeing of our communities.”
Nicolas also says partnering with organisations such as ANZ is an important step toward creating positive change in communities.
“Over the years, ANZ has demonstrated its commitment and support for the LGBTIQ+ community. We commend ANZ’s involvement with the Welcome Here Project – its membership sends a strong message of the importance of celebrating inclusion and diversity in our society,” he says.
Matthew Hastings from the Retail and Commercial business at ANZ, who worked behind the scenes to bring this initiative to life, says it’s not just a one off. “It’s an enduring and visible statement to our customers, employees and the community that everyone - no matter who you are or who you love – is welcome here. We celebrate diversity and welcome inclusion and we’re proud to wear it on our hearts and our doors,” he says.
Darren Sibson is a bluenotes contributor and is part of the leadership group for ANZ’s Pride Network.
To nominate a business in your local area visit Welcome Here.
If you or anyone you know has or is experiencing violence or needs help and support, please visit www.lifeline.org.au.