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Australian state relaunches Safe Place LGBT street safety program

Australian state relaunches Safe Place LGBT street safety program

Businesses and organizations throughout the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) are being encouraged to demonstrate their support for the LGBT community and intersex people by getting involved in a renewed Safe Place program which launched today in Sydney.

Set up in 1991, the program originally involved participating venues displaying a sign which identified them as a place of refuge for victims of street-based homophobic violence, with venue staff receiving training and resources to help them provide appropriate support.

While LGBT and intersex people still experience street-based violence, the number of incidents has decreased significantly over the last twenty years, and so the program has been reinvented as a platform for businesses and organizations to demonstrate that they are welcoming and supportive of LGBT and intersex people.

The program is an initiative of ACON, formerly the AIDS Council of NSW, and is funded by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD)

The program will be administered by ACON’s Anti-Violence Project.

Launching the program in Sydney today at the Bandstand Cafe in Green Park, SESLHD Chief Executive Terry Clout said the new shape and function of the Safe Place program symbolizes its continued adaptation to changing circumstances.

‘This change is in recognition that although homophobia has changed in form over time, it is still prevalent in our communities and continues to have negative effects on the health of [LGBT and intersex] people,’ Clout said.

‘The broader social acceptance of [LGBT and intersex] people that the Safe Place Program promotes is a critical determinant of the [LGBT and intersex] community’s health. Of course, the need to protect [LGBT and intersex] people from acts of homophobic violence remains important in terms of keeping people physically safe and out of our hospitals and emergency wards.

‘The new Safe Place program meets both these needs and I commend the program and am proud to launch it on behalf of the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District.’

Over 80 venues across NSW have already signed up for the new program including shops, cafes, service providers and entertainment venues.

All Safe Places will publicly display a Safe Place Charter – a set of principles that underpin the entire program and which each Safe Place commits to following. The program also includes a new brand and logo designed by local Sydney community member David Fleming (pictured).

‘Environments that are free of homophobia and that offer safety and protection have a direct impact on health of both individuals and communities,’ said ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill.

‘The Safe Place program has always been, and continues to be, an important initiative for creating a sense of safety and comfort for [LGBT and intersex] people. The revitalized program is about celebration, inclusivity and working together to build on the strengths and success from the past to create and maintain safe and supportive communities now and into the future.’

A series of smaller launches for the Safe Place program will take place in Bankstown, Newcastle Lismore, Wollongong and on the Central Coast throughout June and July.