By Colin MacGillivray
VICTORIA Police liaison officers have helped celebrate Pride Month during June with Mitchell Shire’s LGBTQI community.
Five specially trained liaison officers, known as GLLOs, currently interact with the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex residents.
GLLOs aim to foster trust between police and members of the LGBTQI community to promote fairer treatment and better policing outcomes.
Mitchell Proactive Police Unit Senior Constable Heidi Twining said it was important for members of the LGBTQI community to feel safe and confident when dealing with police.
“[GLLOs] are able to help people who might be victims of phobias or prejudices, and can be experiencing things like family violence,” she said.
“Having officers with specialised training helps remove barriers for people in the LGBTQI community which lead to them not reporting incidents.
“Every member of Victoria Police will treat members of the community with respect, so we don’t want people to think that isn’t the case, but GLLOs are there in case members don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason.
“It’s about trying to make members of the community feel safe, which is very important.”
Sen Const Twining said she had been a GLLO for more than two years and loved being able to make a positive impact in an often marginalised community.
“This is an aspect of policing that doesn’t always get a lot of publicity and we want to keep getting the message out there,” she said.
“LGBTQI people can sometimes feel like they’ve been left out or forgotten, and we don’t want that to be the case.”
Sen Const Twining said police participated in celebration days such as IDAHOBIT – International Day International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia – and worked alongside groups such as Mitchell Youth Council, Nexus Primary Health and Licorice Allsorts Youth Group.
Mitchell Shire Council acting director of advocacy and community services Jo Wilson said council was glad to be able to work with police to make a difference to the region’s LGBTQI community.
“As part of council’s work towards an inclusive community, our social justice framework outlines our commitment to and appreciation of Mitchell’s LGBTQI communities and how we work in partnership to support them,” she said.
“We are guided by our councillors in our response to such important issues.
“Council is very proud of the work our officers do with Victoria Police to promote inclusiveness for our LGBTQI community during pride week, and every week.
“We are lucky to have GLLO’s locally across Mitchell’s police stations and appreciate the positive impact they have on the community.”
Mitchell’s four other GLLOs were Leading Senior Constable Peter Comte and Senior Constable Leigh Arthur at Seymour police station, and First Constable Courtney Coghill and Constable Linda Smith at Wallan police station.