Boost for LGBTI in the Green Wedge

Peter Veitch with Councillor Jane Ashton. Pic: Geoff Allshorn

Community grants, consultation and support for LGBTI residents in the Green Wedge

Nillumbik Shire Council – which covers Eltham, Diamond Creek, Greensborough and surrounds In Melbourne leafy outer north eastern suburbs – passed a motion at their recent meeting Tuesday, welcoming the outcome of the recent postal survey, and promising to consult with the local LGBTI community going forward. They also voted to add the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) on 17 May to the Council calendar of events, and actively support it.

They also agreed to fund a small community grant program for local community groups and events that promote and encourage IDAHOBIT and LGBTI inclusion.

This is a big change from Council’s stance before the survey, when they maintained a strict public neutrality. At the time, Mayor Peter Clarke told the stirrer:

Council has confined itself and remains focussed on issues that Councillors have taken to a local election and have a mandate to implement or issues which Council is responsible for under the local government, planning ,health ,building ,transport, environment acts related to our direct sphere of influence.

It was Sugarloaf Ward Councillor Jane Ashton who brought the motion before Tuesday’s meeting, and despite initial trepidation over a possible rough reception, she was delighted with the result, saying:

“The LGBTI community will now have a platform for meaningful engagement with Nillumbik shire Council.  If we are serious about inclusivity, breaking down prejudice and improving mental health for all, then the unanimous acceptance of lasts night recommendation is a step in the right direction”.

Not only did the motion pass smoothly, but it was also expanded, adding an undertaking to consult with the local LGBT community to determine next steps. Peter Veitch, who attended to offer moral support, said that the Mayor spoke well in favour of the motion.

Nillumbik Greens responded:

Council just voted unanimously to support the outcome of the Marriage Equality debate, to include IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homo/Bi/Intersex/Trans-phobia) in their calendar and to provide grants to local groups to support LGBTQIA+ inclusion in the Shire! This is fantastic news for queer residents, especially young people.

The Shire has long had an LGBTI-friendly reputation, with a gay group for local students running at the community health centre, and local schools marching in Pride, but this is the first time local politicians have come aboard.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)