Victorian Budget puts equality back on the agenda

Pride March_editorialThe Victorian Government is putting equality back on the agenda, committing $10 million in initiatives towards ensuring LGBTI Victorians have the respect, inclusion, health and happiness to which all Victorians are entitled.

The 2015-16 Victorian Budget invests $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.

Victoria’s new Gender and Sexuality Commissioner will promote the rights of LGBTI people in the community and champion LGBTI-inclusive practices across government and society.

The LGBTI Taskforce – with a Health and Human Services Working Group and a Justice Working Group – will be a whole of government advisory group ensuring that all the Government’s equality initiatives are driven by genuine community consultation.

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.

Minister for Equality, Martin Foley said: “The Safe Schools Coalition means LGBTI young people will get the support they deserve at every government secondary school.”

“With this Budget, we’re putting equality back on the agenda. Sadly, homophobia still exists in our society, but we won’t rest until everyone in our state feels free to be who they are.”

The Government has commenced a review of adoption laws to remove discrimination against same-sex couples and, in a landmark gesture for equality and respect, Daniel Andrews became the first Premier to lead Melbourne’s annual Pride March for its 20th anniversary in February.

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