Thursday, 16 July 2015

Victoria's first gender and sexuality commissioner appointed

The Commission welcomes the appointment of Rowena Allen as Victoria's first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner. This appointment will assist promote the rights of LGBTI people in the community and champion LGBTI-inclusive practices across government and society.

Ms Allen has worked in LGBTI social justice for over 20 years, setting up the first rural same sex attracted youth program, giving her a particular understanding of the issues faced in rural and regional areas.

She currently chairs the Adult, Community and Further Education Board and is a former Chair of the Victorian Skills Commission, the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVIC), and is a former member of the Hume Regional Development Australia Committee.

In 2003 Ms Allen received a Centenary Medal and in 2009 she was inducted into the Victorian Government Honour Roll for Women. Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Kate Jenkins said she was looking forward to working with Ms Allen to ensure that LGBTI people enjoy the same level of support as everyone else.

"Everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity has a right to live in safe and supported communities free from discrimination.

"The appointment of a Gender and Sexuality Commissioner shows a commitment by the government to ensure that issues facing LGBTI people will remain firmly on the agenda in Victoria." Ms Jenkins said.

The 2015-16 Victorian Budget allocated $3.2 million to establish and resource Australia's first dedicated Equality portfolio within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. This includes the creation of a Gender and Sexuality Commissioner, an LGBTI Taskforce and a program of reform to remove discrimination from our laws and services.

The Budget also includes $5.9 million to fund programs that promote the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTI Victorians.

The Safe Schools Coalition will receive an extra $1 million so all Victorian government secondary schools receive teacher training and resources to support LGBTI students.

The government has also commenced a review of adoption laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples.

The Commission, as part of its complaints handling and dispute resolution function, received over 320 complaints across 2013/14 in relation to gender identity, sexual orientation and sex discrimination.

Anyone who has a complaint or enquiry can contact the Commission on 1300 292 153.

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