Victorian Police Chief acknowledges 20 year relationship with LGBTI community

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton AMChief Commissioner of Police Graham Ashton has acknowledged the 20 year anniversary of the Victoria Police LGBTI portfolio reference group.

Consisting of police representatives, peak bodies and community organisations, the reference group provides advice, expertise and feedback to assist Victoria Police in its engagement with diverse communities. CCP Graham Ashton said the significant milestone represented the commitment Victoria Police had made to earning the trust and confidence of the LGBTI community.

During the event, the Chief Commissioner made an apology to the LGBTI community for harm caused by Victoria Police in their enforcement of now repealed laws criminalising homosexuality. “I am extremely proud of the journey we have taken and the progress we have made,” he said.

“But I acknowledge that there have been times in our history with the LGBTI community when Victoria Police has fallen short of the expectations that the community rightly puts upon us. There have clearly been times when police actions caused unnecessary and unacceptable harm – to the community and to our own people. I have had the opportunity to hear many of these experiences first hand.”

“I am sorry to everyone in the community who did not receive the support and service they should have, who were concerned for their own safety and wellbeing, who as Victoria Police employees could not be their authentic selves at work,” said CCP Ashton.

Victoria Police has taken a number of critical steps over recent times to strengthen relationships and rebuild trust – including the annual participation in the Midsumma Pride March and establishment of a network of more than 370 Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers (GLLOs) in the organisation.

“We’ve been doing a great deal to enhance the mutual trust between the LGBTI community and police,” said CCP Ashton. “This work is not complete and we are committed to becoming an organisation that reflects the entire community, and one that firmly rejects homophobia, transphobia, and other types of prejudice.”

Image: Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton AM – courtesy of Victoria Police