Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Police and concerns Meet Us on the Street — International Anti-Street Harassment Week. From Australia to Zimbabwe, organisers are running a hashtag called #EndSH — end street harassment. This is a problem that tens of millions of people experience, sadly young women and members of the LGBTI community in particular. It limits people’s feeling of safety and their ability to get around in the evenings, and sometimes it inhibits people’s ability to live a full life. Basically it is a human rights violation. It is important to talk about this not only at this level but also at the community, national and global levels. I have been inspired by collectives like Stop Street Harassment, which is based in the US but works internationally.
In saying that, I was frustrated and disappointed by the comments that were made by the Victorian homicide squad head, Detective Inspector Mick Hughes. After the absolutely tragic and senseless murder of Masa Vukotic, he suggested, ‘People, particularly females … shouldn’t be alone in parks’. This is unhelpful and unacceptable. He went on to say, ‘We just need to be a little bit more careful’, and he encouraged women to walk together in parks and to not go out after dark. As a woman who walks to work and quite often walks home from work and who in the 1980s marched in the streets at Reclaim the Night rallies, I feel very sad that senior police officers and others in our society are still making these types of comments.
It is not the responsibility of women to modify their behaviour, to censor themselves and to ensure that we take reasonable precautions to protect our safety, as the inspector suggested. It is simply up to perpetrators to stop perpetrating — to stop harming people. We need to move away from this notion that victims are to be blamed. I call on the Minister for Police, the Honourable Wade Noonan, to take immediate action and apologise on behalf of Victoria Police in the spirit of anti-street harassment week.
I thank the Member for raising this important matter.
The Andrews Labor Government is serious about addressing homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and discrimination against people with intersex variations.
As announced in the recent budget, $15 million will support the establishment of an LGBTI Pride Centre, which will provide a home for many of our LGBTI community organisations, so that they can focus on supporting community members and furthering inclusion and acceptance in the broader Victorian community.
In addition to this, the 2016-17 Victorian Budget invests $4 million over four years for an LGBTI Grants Program to strengthen the sustainability of LGBTI community organisations and develop the governance and leadership skills of LGBTI community leaders. The grants will provide LGBTI communities and organisations with the extra support they need to ensure Victorians live free from discrimination. The funding complements the LGBTI Multicultural Grants which support culturally diverse LGBTI Victorians. These grants will comprise a minimum grant pool of $500 000 over four years.
Finally, a further $2.5 million over 4 years is allocated to initiatives that combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. This includes a rural and regional roadshow which will be led by the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality. The roadshow will provide LGBTI community members living outside Melbourne with better access to support, as well as the delivery of LGBTI education and training for mainstream services. The funding recognises the need for equality and respect for LGBTI Victorians and tackling all forms of discrimination.