The City of Ballarat hopes a new LGBTIQA+ advisory committee will help promote inclusiveness across the city's services and events.
Council is calling for expressions of interest for the committee which will be its primary reference group for gender and sexuality-inclusive policies, strategies, services and activities.
The committee was an initiative of Mayor Daniel Moloney and central ward councillor Belinda Coates.
Cr Moloney said the establishment of the committee came after calls from the within the LGBTIQA+ community about a lack of representation.
"It's also part of our community that has higher depression and suicide rates. Sadly, we see a lot of people who identify as part of the rainbow community still needing to travel to places such as Melbourne to access the basic services such as doctor's appointments, so it's pretty clear that there's still a lot of work that can be done to improve access to health and medical services," he said.
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"Even throughout the type of things that council runs, access to sports facilities and our own health and wellbeing programs, there's probably more that we can continue to do and listening to this important part of our community, we can learn how the council can continue to be more inclusive.
"While I personally identify as part of the LGBTIQA+ community, I see the end game being a point in time when it doesn't matter and that everyone has the same opportunities for employment, health and enjoyment of sport and recreation."
Cr Moloney said while society was becoming more inclusive, there were still areas that it could improve.
"I don't want to see businesses or sporting clubs just put a rainbow sticker on their door and say that's it. Either you genuinely want to make your workplace or your sporting club an inclusive place or you don't, and it's more than just putting a sticker on the door," he said.
"There's a bit of work to make sure that your employees are understanding, and even in some cases, just the use of pronouns can be a bit of a challenge for some people as well.
"Regardless of whether it's gender and sexual identity or other areas of inclusiveness, it's something that's come through really strongly in the feedback we've received from the community."
Cr Moloney said the committee would advise could regarding the running of events such as the IDAHOBIT A Place at the Table along with how council could generally be more inclusive.
"Any work that we can do to adapt our employment procurement policies, I think is also a good thing as well. We're hearing that also quite strong from the Koorie Engagement Action Group. Just by having policies as a council, where we hire a representative sample of our community so that everyone has a fairly equal opportunity to jobs, they're some of the simple, easy wins," he said.
"The cultural change objectives will take a lot longer and every year, we do see a place like Ballarat become more inclusive and that's something we should be proud of."
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