Archive for December, 2009

Festive season safety

// December 25th, 2009 // No Comments » // AVP news, Within Victoria

The AVP wishes you a very safe and happy festive season and New Year.

2009 has been an excellent year in Victoria where we have moved forward in addressing homophobia the resulting hate and prejudice motivated crime that comes from homophobia. This year great partnerships have been strengthened between GLBT community organisations and between us and government – both local and state.

Even stronger partnerships have been forged with the other communities who also experience hate-crime. While the motivations there are based on cultural or faith differences, the similarities between hate-crime based on sexuality or gender orientation are strong.

Now is an excellent time to reflect that whenever and wherever we see violence occurring, whether it is prejudice motivated or spur-of-the-moment, we should always make a stand and do something. In Australia please call 000 and report violence to the police. In Victoria, when safe, please complete an on-line violence report to us so that we can continue our discussions fully aware of the impact violence has on our lives and in our community. To be silent about violence is the same as sanctioning it.

This coming year, 2010, will see further work take place to identify possible strengthening of laws to address hate-crime in Victoria. The AVP will continue to be a strong partner in the strategy development taking place with the ALSO Foundation and others about how to further address homophobia (for more information about the “With Respect Awareness Project” please contact ALSO’s interim-CEO, Kylie Smith by clicking here)

We are further progressing discussions with government about funding for the AVP to continue its great work with a much more longer-term focus which funding will provide. Work to-date, while significant in its scope and reach, has been vastly limited by the lack of funding.

Once again we would like to ask you to be safe and care for each other during this festive season and thank you for your involvement in our work addressing violence within and against the GLBT community in Victoria.

Greg, Jayne and Lauren,
AVP directors

Hate-Crime in Victoria – next step announced

// December 9th, 2009 // No Comments » // AVP news, Within Australia

The Anti Violence Project of Victoria (AVP) applauded today’s announcement by state Attorney General Hulls of the next step towards addressing hate-crimes including homophobic harassment and violence.

“We welcome the establishment of Justice Geoffrey Eames’ review of Victoria’s hate-crimes legislation,” said AVP head Greg Adkins, adding that the announcement was a key part of the Brumby government’s continued progressive reform agenda which reinforces recent changes in criminal sentencing.

“This review is a welcome next step, but it’s not the last step by any means.

“Currently all violence and hate-crime reporting services for the LGBT community, outside Victoria Police, are provided without funding by the AVP. Our work supports people experiencing hate and prejudice motivated crime but we are limited by the absence of government funding.

“Outcomes from this review of hate-crime laws must be matched with the provision of an ongoing funding model to sustain the work currently undertaken by AVP volunteers on behalf of the LGBT community.

“Hate-crimes are criminal acts. They can cover a range of offences against the person and can often target an individual’s property. And if one gay man, one lesbian or one transgender individual is a victim of a hate-crime then the State has a responsibility to ensure that every crime is reported, that in each case the perpetrators are brought to justice and future hate-crime is prevented.

“Sadly, hate-crime against the LGBT community is vastly under-reported and research shows that lack of funds limits the way the AVP can engage our community to fully support the reporting of violence, leaving Victoria Police to allocate limited resources responding to a hidden pool of hate and prejudice motivated crime.

“During the 12 year life of Victoria’s AVP we have worked within the community to deal with a wide range of hate-crime including verbal harassment and vilification, intimidation on the streets and in the workplace or at school, threats and property damage and even physical assault and murder. All have been committed due to a bias or prejudice by the perpetrator against us because of our sexual orientation or gender identification.

“This means that perpetrators of hate-crime intentionally choose us as the targets of the crime because of who we are.

“Today’s welcome review announcement by the Attorney General is the opportunity for the GLBT community to submit to Justice Eames that existing law in Victoria must be amended to draw a line in the sand on hate-crime, these amendments identify that crimes motivated by bias or prejudice based on our unique personal sexual orientation and gender characteristics should regarded as higher-end crime, and that increased or additional penalties should be imposed for bias and prejudice motivated crime”.

Adkins said that the GLBT community stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Victorians of other races, languages, faith and religious beliefs, nationalities, ethnicities and disabilities, when it comes to the issue of hate-crime.

“It is our individual attributes that lead some people to target crime against us in a biased way. For far too long a majority of our society and the institutions supporting it, have sat silently on their hands while hate motivated crime impacts people’s lives and the Attorney General’s announcement sets the stage for real outcomes targeting hate-crime.

“We feel very positively that this review will establish benchmark offences and penalties that appropriately reflect the serious nature of bias and hate motivated crimes in our society where we should be equals with people regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and disability.

The AVP applauded the Attorney General’s direction to review head Justice Eames to have particular regard to the “With Respect” discussion paper and the principles of the Human Rights Charter.

“This review enhances any potential outcomes from the work of the ALSO Foundation, the AVP, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Transgender Victoria in their partnership taking “With Respect” to the next step, the development of a state-wide homophobic harassment strategy,” Adkins said.

“It also highlights the need for funding of community organisations who are delivering the means of supporting victims of hate and prejudice motivated crime and working to increase the poor current levels of hate-crime reporting.

The AVP looks forward to consulting with Justice Eames at the earlier opportunity during his review

Scoping Day for IDAHO 2010

// December 8th, 2009 // No Comments » // AVP news, Within Victoria

Today is the initial Scoping Day for next year’s International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) – May 17, 2010.

Community organisations from around Victoria will meet at City Village, 225 Bourke Street to start to scope the range of activities and community partnerships that will form the backbone to a state-wide IDAHO response in 2010.

The meeting kicks off at 4pm, Tuesday December 8, 2009, at the 10th Floor, City Village, 225 Bourke Street, Melbourne – lift to the 9th floor where community partner, Joy 94.9 is situated, then stairs to the Kulin Room on Level 10.

For further information or to register your interest, please email the AVP by clicking here or telephone the executive director +61407664442

Sentencing laws addressing hate and prejudice motivation start today

// December 2nd, 2009 // No Comments » // Media discussion, Within Australia

The Anti Violence Project today celebrated commencement of the Sentencing Amendment Act 2009 which received Royal Assent yesterday and came into effect today.

“This new Act of Parliament amends the Sentencing Act 1991 to require that a court must have regard to a motivation of hatred or prejudice against a group of people in sentencing an offender”, said AVP head Greg Adkins.

“On behalf of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community we congratulate Attorney General Rob Hulls on his continued support and advocacy with these latest legal reforms.

“The new Sentencing Amendment Act 2009 draws a line in the sand in our Victorian community to say that crime based on race, religion, gender or orientation won’t be tolerated and ensures that judges take into account during sentencing whether hatred or prejudice motivated the crime.

“This provides greater protection to all of us, gay or straight, those of us who enjoy ethnically and faith diverse lives, supporting our right to live and enjoy a diverse community where we can openly celebrate our sexual orientation, gender, culture, heritage or religion, knowing that under law any attack motivated by hatred or prejudice against these attributes deserves punishment for the hate or prejudice motivation alone.

“There are two steps that now must be taken – firstly the LGBT community must continue to respond to the AVP’s “Call-to-Action” on the reporting of hate and prejudice motivated violence and report each and every incident directly to police or through supportive processes like the AVP’s on-line reporting service at http://antiviolence.info .

“Every time LGBT individuals witness violence, whether its directed towards us or towards people of different races or faiths in the broader community, we have a responsibility to get on the phone and call the police”, Adkins said.

“The second step is that cultural change, underway within Victoria Police, which is working to eliminate a long history of indifference towards hate and bias motivated crime against gays and lesbians, has to continue with support of all levels of Victoria Police and must succeed”.

Brunswick Safety Roundtable

// December 2nd, 2009 // No Comments » // Within Victoria

Brunswick’s LGBT community found themselves with strong allies to address homophobia and safety fears when co-convenor of the Victorian Gay& Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL), Hayley Conway, and Labor candidate for Brunswick, Jane Garrett today hosted a Safety Roundtable at Brunswick Town Hall (see them here)

They were joined by the LGBT’s Anti Violence Project of Victoria, representatives from Moreland Council, local businesses and the traders’ association, concerned residents, community health workers, queer venue management and Victoria Police with a simple but urgent agenda – to discuss initiatives to ensure the rights of LGBT people living in Brunswick are protected and they feel safe and secure, no matter what time of the day or night.

This meeting builds on previous local initiatives which responded to homophobic local incidents targeting lesbians, and brings together work undertaken individually by the VGLRL and the AVP. Further work is planned for this Roundtable that will build and strengthen community partnerships, at the same time lead to the development of responses that addresses homophobic violence in Brunswick, increase the reporting of violence and make a strong statement that being safe from hate or prejudice motivated violence is a fundamental right.

Contacts:
Hailey Conway, Convenor, Victorian Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby – 0415 314 293
Jane Garrett, Labor Candidate for Brunwick – 0408 810 633
Greg Adkins, Executive Director, Anti Violence Project of Victoria Inc. – 0407 664 442

World AIDS Day, December 1st

// December 1st, 2009 // No Comments » // Around the globe, AVP news, Within Australia, Within Victoria

The AVP in Victoria has urge everyone in the LGBT and heterosexual communities in Victoria to commit to fighting prejudice and protect ourselves and others around HIV, this World AIDS Day.

The AVP marked the arrival of World AIDS Day, December 1st, by urging everyone in the LGBT community in Victoria to commit to three basic actions:-
(1) partner with the heterosexual community to fight prejudice and discrimination each time this violence rears its ugly face, and
(2) protect yourself and others around HIV.

“Our commitment, from today on, is to work more closely with People Living with HIV/AIDS (Victoria) to move these goals into strategies and to encourage discussions about ending HIV discrimination within our gay community and outside in the straight world”, said AVP head Greg Adkins.

“When one person living with HIV experiences discrimination, then that is one person too many.

“Likewise when one additional HIV negative person becomes HIV positive, that is also one person too many”, he said.

The AVP will be meeting with Positive Speakers Bureau Coordinator, Max Niggle next week to get discussions between the two organisations under way. The AVP has also invited PLWHA (Vic) to play an important role in a major LGBT Scoping Meeting for the 2010 International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) taking place next week, in which LGBT organisations and key groups from the broader community will meet on December 8th at 4pm in the Kulin Room, level 10, City Village, 225 Bourke Street, Melbourne. This meeting will commence planning activities for Victoria leading up to the next IDAHO on May 17th, 2010.

The AVP’s third action is to support calls for all gay and bisexual men and people living with HIV in the LGBT community to renew their support for ending HIV discrimination by investigating the Barometer Survey, launched today as joint project of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR). The Barometer Survey is an online questionnaire about stigma and discrimination related to HIV. It focuses on experiences of stigma by people living with HIV, and the potentially stigmatising attitudes of HIV-negative gay men. As participants navigate this site they will find themselves routed to different sets of questions based on their HIV status and sexuality.

The Barometer Survey is at www.afao.org.au/barometer

For further information about the AVP in Victoria, please contact Executive Director, Greg Adkins, 0407664442