The Inclusive Brisbane Board and the LGBTI community
The Brisbane Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Queer Action Group (BLAG) issued a media release today that is critical of the Brisbane City Council’s (BCC) decision not to establish a Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Advisory Committee.
While I would have welcomed the creation of an LGBTI Advisory Committee, I understand why Council decided that such a committee was unnecessary. The Inclusive Brisbane Board (IBB) already provides a forum to ensure that LGBTI issues are raised with Council. As I have been the LGBTI representative on the IBB for a little over a year, I feel as though I am in a position to comment on the important work the IBB has done, and will continue to, for the LGBTI community in this city.
Generally the role of the Board is to:
- Advise on community issues associated with policy initiatives and planning processes in relation to land use, affordability, community facilities, economic viability, safety, the arts, and community cohesiveness with respect to urban and suburban development;
- Advise on priorities with respect to community development, support services and social infrastructure emerging from Urban Renewal Brisbane and Neighbourhood Planning Community Planning Teams;
- Identify emerging issues relating to community cohesiveness, social inclusion and social policy;
- Provide advice and feedback on Council policies with reference to issues concerning the not-for-profit sector, particularly services that support youth and seniors, multicultural communities, those with disabilities, gender diversity, and those with Aboriginal and Torres Strait heritage;
- Encourage integration between major State and Local Government and private sector projects via consistent community engagement processes and co-ordinated consideration of social impacts and outcomes;
- Share information, generate ideas, identify research needs, advocacy and partnership opportunities to address issues; and
- Contribute to the development of the new Brisbane City Plan and Neighbourhood Plans.
In my time on the IBB, it has considered — and as such I have provided advice to Council on the LGBTI perspective — on a wide range of programs, projects and issues, including:
- Brisbane’s Global Performance — Economic Intelligence Unit Liveability Survey;
- Brisbane Access and Inclusion Implementation Plan;
- Hoarding and Squalor Reduction Initiative;
- Homelessness Project;
- Volunteering Queensland;
- Green Heart Wisdom Project;
- Creative Brisbane, Creative Economy Strategy;
- My Community Directory;
- Social Infrastructure — Capital Projects;
- Queen Street Mall Vision;
- Social Enterprise in Brisbane; and
- international students in Brisbane.
The IBB also held a Community Forum in August this year for community organisations, “Community organisations of the future — keys to surviving and thriving.”
On LGBTI issues specifically, the IBB is currently working on several projects, including:
- a review of all BCC policies to ensure that the needs of the LGBTI community are being adequately addresses;
- the development of an LGBTI history trail to be delivered by the Brisbane Greeters;
- a process for regular and ongoing engagement with the LGBTI community of Brisbane, beginning with a community forum that will be held in early 2016; and
- engagement with LGBTI community organisations through the IBB’s Professional Advice Alliance.
Significantly, at the October 2015 IBB meeting there was a lengthy discussion of the extent to which Council supports its LGBTI employees. It is worth noting that the BCC is the only local government to be a member of Pride in Diversity and that the BCC has made four submissions to the Australian Workplace Equality Index, and has made a 400% improvement in its index since it began its involvement. Moreover, since 2011, all human resources procedures have been reviewed by Council in partnership with Pride in Diversity to ensure inclusiveness. I am confident that the IBB will continue to work with Council to ensure that it remains a national leader among local governments in providing support for its LGBTI employees.
In addition to the work of the whole IBB, as the LGBTI representative, I work closely with the Lord Mayor, Cr Krista Adams (Chairman, Brisbane Lifestyle Committee), Cr Amanda Cooper (Chairman, Neighbourhood Planning & Development Assessment Committee), and Cr Vicki Howard. The consultative, productive and respectful relationship I have developed with these leaders in Council has contributed to some of the important symbolic steps that Council has made for the LGBTI community over the past 12 months, including the decision to light up the city for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), flying the rainbow flag from City Hall for IDAHOT and the Queen’s Birthday Ball Awards, having the Lord Mayor speak at the the Queen’s Birthday Ball Awards and the Brisbane Pride Festival Rally and March, the rainbow BCC bus, and the promotion of LGBTI community services on Council’s website.
The IBB is a strong, productive and important initiative of Council which is committed to an inclusive Brisbane. It is also a far more effective body (and far more cost-effective) than having dozens of different advisory committees, each one representing a different minority group.