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Rainbow flag aloft for IDAHOBIT 

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Cheers accompanied raising of the rainbow flag outside Surf Coast Shire Council’s civic office today at a community celebration to mark IDAHOBIT – International Day against LGBTQIA+ discrimination.

Community members joined Mayor Liz Pattison, Cr Rose Hodge and Council staff for the annual event, celebrating diversity and inclusion.

The rainbow flag flies outside the civic building for the entire month of May, and Cr Pattison completed a ceremonial raising to herald the special day.

The event was followed by a morning tea, and an afternoon youth celebration at the Youth Hub at Kurrambee Myaring Community Centre.

Cr Pattison said Surf Coast Shire should be an inclusive and safe place for everyone.

“I am proud to be an LGBTQIA+ ally, and proud that our rainbow flag shows that Council is an inclusive workplace,” Cr Pattison said.

“Today and every day we pledge to never stay silent about LGBTQIA+ discrimination.”

LGBTQIA+ ally, Council Youth Engagement Officer Ella Sweeney spoke at the ceremony.

“It is an honour to celebrate IDAHOBIT and support activities that make a difference for our young people and community,” Ella said.

“As someone who was raised locally in Jan Juc, it has been incredible to see a gradual shift condemning discriminatory language, and a progression towards pride awareness in our shire.

“I pay respects to those within the rainbow community who have championed their rights, and as allies it is our responsibility to continue to honour and amplify their efforts.

“We still have a lot to achieve.”

Ella said youth LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisation Minus18 found that:

·       Two in three LGBTQIA+ youths experience abuse due to their identity

·       66 per cent experience bullying or harassment

·       68 per cent of LGBTQIA+ employees in Australia have not spoken of their identity to everyone at work.

Ella said being a good ally might often revolve around sharing empathy.

“It depends on the context but I think personally through youth work it is showing empathy – not in a sense of tokenism or addressing an issue or a topic head-on, but being there to listen with understanding if someone would like to talk.

“Always opening up the floor for someone to talk and for you to listen rather than talk over their experience.”

She said celebration activities at the Youth Hub included enjoying rainbow food, rainbow art stations, flower pot painting and planting, and conversations around LGBTQIA+ inclusion, respect and access to services.

The IDAHOBIT event at the hub builds on the work Council’s Youth Team is delivering to ensure that it provides a safe, welcoming and inclusive space for all young people to participate.

Initiatives at the hub have included painting of the Rainbow Connections mural by LGBTQIA+ young people as part of Youth Fest last year.

The mural is appreciated as a visual sign of compassion, connection and inclusion by the 50 to 60 young people who pass through the hub each Monday, Wednesday and Friday night.

“I know the young people who come through the Youth Hub and identify as part of the rainbow community feel excited and proud knowing there is a day like IDAHOBIT honouring them,” Ella said.

Visit: surfcoast.vic.gov.au/IDAHOBIT

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