The NSW government has awarded a $115,000 grant to leading NSW health organisation ACON to go towards combating domestic and family violence in the LGBTI community.
The grant will go towards ACON's new domestic and family violence strategy, launched today by NSW minister for the prevention of domestic violence Pru Goward.
Domestic and family violence in the LGBTIQ community is a "significant and very real issue", Goward said.
"We know that LGBTIQ people might be experiencing unique forms of domestic violence that target their sexuality, their gender identity or expression, or their intersex status."
Goward spoke extensively about the importance of partnerships between government and non-government organisations when dealing with issues like domestic violence in specific communities.
"We recognise that it is only with partnerships, only when the whole community is engaged that we have any chance of all of addressing these complex social problems," she said.
"It's important that LGBTI people and their families feel safe and supported."
ACON president Mark Orr outlined the specific challenges faced by LGBTI people when it comes to domestic and family violence, citing low reporting rates and a lack of resources.
The majority of existing resources on domestic and family violence cater exclusively to people in heterosexual relationships. The lack of information can lead to LGBTI people having difficult identifying early signs of abuse and violence.
"Domestic and family violence in the LGBTI community doesn't always look the same as in heterosexual relationships, and so LGBTI people don't always recognise it," Orr said.
"Because of this, many LGBTI people suffer in isolation and don't feel comfortable to report abuse or seek help from support services."
Reporting rates among LGBTI people are currently three times lower than the national average. Those who do report are also less likely to find relevant support services.
For LGBTI people, fear of being outed adds another layer to existing concerns about reporting abuse.
"As a result of stigma and discrimination, many LGBTI people have a fundamental distrust of mainstream services, as well as the police and justice system," Orr added.
Various groups within the LGBTI community also face specific issues that compound domestic violence experiences. Transgender women often have difficulty accessing women's services, limiting their options for safely reporting or leaving an abusive relationship.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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