During Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, the Queensland Police Service is supporting Australia's first LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day today (May 28).
Queensland Police Officer and founder of LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day, Senior Constable Ben Bjarnesen, is a DVConnect Board Member and works closely with Queensland's LGBTI+ communities to provide police support.
Senior Constable Bjarnesen said the day, supported by DVConnect and the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health, aimed to raise awareness of domestic violence experienced within LGBTI relationships and improve the levels of reporting to authorities and support services.
"It's so important that people from LGBTI communities know that help is available for them, that they don't have to live with abuse and that everyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, deserves to live a life free from violence and abuse," Senior Constable Bjarnesen said.
"The Queensland Police Service is dedicated to supporting members of LGBTI communities, and LGBTI Police Liaison Officers provide specialised assistance to members of these communities to make sure they receive support that meets their specific needs while working with police.
"On May 28, we are letting LGBTI communities know that we here for them. We are raising awareness, remembering the victims who've lost their lives, and supporting those in abusive relationships and those who have survived."
"We're asking the community to show their support with personal messages of hope by spreading the words #ImHereForYou."
#ImHereForYou if you need someone to talk to.
#ImHereForYou and will help stamp out domestic violence in LGBTI communities.
Recent studies show that up to 62 per cent of LGBTIQ+ people have experienced domestic violence, yet awareness of the issue and reporting rates are still incredibly low with only 5.3 per cent being reported to police.
DVConnect Chief Executive Officer Beck O'Connor said all people, across diverse genders, sexualities and bodies deserved to enjoy relationships free from domestic, family and sexual violence.
"We are committed to listening to the voices of those with lived experience," Ms O'Connor said.
"We see LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day as an incredible opportunity to continue learning about how we can support, empower and actively reduce barriers to safety for LGBTI people."
Queensland Council for LGBTI Health CEO Rebecca Reynolds said the council was committed to this campaign and to being a visible and vocal support for those experiencing domestic and family violence in our communities across Queensland.
"Awareness of the experiences of domestic and family violence that occur in LGBTI communities and for Sistergirls and Brotherboys across Queensland is essential. It does not take one form and the more we all know about these experiences, the better and safer all of our communities will be," Ms Reynolds said.
"We all have a responsibility to create spaces where people feel safe, seen and heard and encourage them to share their experiences and seek help. We take that responsibility seriously."
Download the Resource Kit and find further information at www.LGBTIDVAwarenessDay.com or connect on Facebook or Instagram @lgbti.dv.awareness.day.
The QPS now has an online reporting option available for those who may not be able to access a phone or a police station at this time.
Senior Constable Bjarnesen recognised the importance of this service to members of LGBTI communities in his Churchill Fellowship study – To enhance the Police response to LGBTI domestic violence.
If you need help, or want to find out more about how to report domestic and family violence to the police, head to www.police.qld.gov.au/domestic-violence .
LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day is funded by Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, through the 2020 Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month Grant.