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Sunday, 08 March 2020 12:15

Intersex Communities

Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies [1]

We all deserve to enjoy loving and respectful relationships.

Within our LGBTIQ+ communities, some of us are intersex. Intersex is not a reflection of a person’s sexuality. You might be intersex and queer, intersex and trans, intersex and multigender attracted, just as a person may be cisgender (identify with their sex assigned at birth) or not.

A respectful relationship is one where we can be our authentic selves without fear of discrimination or hostility. You deserve to feel safe, welcome, and respected within all your relationships, including with partners or families, at work or at school. Sometimes our relationships don’t turn out the way we plan or hope for.

A disrespectful relationship could be one where, as a person born with variations of sex characteristic, you experience abuse and harm such as body shaming or physical or emotional violence from a partner or your family member.

Discrimination and stigma play a harmful and negative role in the lives of people who are intersex. Rigid gender stereotypes, assumptions made about people’s sexuality, gender or relationships as well as ableism, all play a part in creating unsafe or harmful relationships.

Addressing intersexism and the discrimination faced by people born with variations of sex characteristics in our LGBTIQ+ communities promotes a culture in which everyone feels welcome.

Our LGBTIQ+ communities should be respectful and safe spaces for everyone to enjoy.

All of us deserve respect.

Recommended Resources

Intersex Human Rights Australia https://ihra.org.au/

The Darlington Statement https://darlington.org.au/affirmation/


[1] Intersex Human Rights Australia working definition https://ihra.org.au/18106/what-is-intersex/

Sunday, 08 March 2020 12:10

Being Isolated by Violence

Everyone experiences feelings of loneliness at some time in our lives.


Your feelings of loneliness may have nothing to do with your sexuality or gender identity but instead be related to family issues, ableism, racism or financial stress, for example. You may feel like no one understands you, that it’s hard to build friendships or form relationships.


Isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness


We can become socially isolated because of our age, due to our disability or because of the pressures of our caring responsibilities, among many other reasons.


There can be specific reasons for feeling isolated: you may be the only trans person you know or the only queer parent in your friendship group. You may be out and proud intersex person but have not yet connected with anyone else your age who is also intersex. You might live in regional area and have few opportunities to connect with other LGBTIQ+ people.

If you feel like this, you are not alone.


Some of us experience social isolation within our relationships or our family.

We may have partners or family members who stop us from seeing our friends. We may come out and be rejected by our partner or family but unable to leave.


You may also be aware of a friend whose partner or family are refusing to let them see you or other friends or family members. This could have happened suddenly or may have occurred over time.


If you are worried of anxious about your friend, consider contact With Respect for advice, support and referrals.


Ways to connect


Being disconnected from your peers can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.


Making social connections through online and face-to-face social and support groups can be a good way to start building new friendships and relationships within the LGBTIQ communities.  


Here are some suggested ways you can connect with others:


  • Check out an LGBTIQ+ support group – seek out LGBTIQ support groups both in person and online to increase your network.
  • Look for online support – log onto Facebook groups to join by typing in words that describe you and see what happens!
  • Get involved in your local community – check out your library and community centre for events.
  • Volunteer for LGBTIQ+ organisations: Midsumma Festival, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, Thorn Harbour Health, queerspace and Switchboard all work with volunteers.
  • Check out TAFE courses that are being offered and enrol - there are many government subsidised options.

Do you know someone struggling with feelings of Loneliness and Isolation?


Here are some tips on how to connect with them:

  • Listen and validate their experience
  • Don’t minimise what they are telling you – it is what they feel.
  • Trust that they ultimately know what is best for them and try to avoid getting frustrated when they don’t do what you think they should do
  • Offer options but don’t advise 
  • Contact 1800 LGBTIQ for assistance or encourage them to call Q/LifeSwitchboard.
Thursday, 05 March 2020 03:06

Detailed list of sector reforms

The family violence sector is undergoing considerable change as result of the Victorian Royal Commission.

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence report (2016) acknowledges capacity of the family violence service system to respond appropriately to LGBTIQ people has been limited to date.

The Commission made four recommendations covering a range of initiatives (recommendations 166-169). Broadly, these seek to:

  • increase the knowledge and evidence base regarding the rates and forms of family violence experienced by LGBTIQ people, this includes the creation of data collection frameworks
  • develop additional housing and other service options for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence
  • build capacity within the family violence sector to recognise and respond appropriately to LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence through training and Rainbow Tick accreditation
  • raise awareness among LGBTIQ communities and the broader community of what family violence looks like and how to respond.

There has been significant investment in Royal Commission recommendations since 2016, as of June the following are being implemented:

  • w|respect has been established to support LGBTIQ communities and their families affected by family violence
  • the establishment of the LGBTIQ Family Violence Working Group as a formal mechanism of government to drive the implementation of the LGBTIQ-specific reforms and provide feedback to government on the impact of broader family violence reforms on LGBTIQ people
  • two new training modules on LGBTIQ family violence, developed by GLHV and Drummond Street Services, for workers in specialist family violence services
  • the commencement of Rainbow Tick Accreditation of specialist family violence services, which will in time include the 17 Support and Safety Hubs being established across the state
  • LGBTIQ family violence applicant and respondent workers in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria to support LGBTIQ people appearing in court in family violence matters
  • commencement of production of legal and other resources for people in LGBTIQ communities experiencing family violence, and a community education campaign
  • a mapping project to build understanding of LGBTIQ people’s experiences of the family violence system, key barriers and service gaps
  • a range of initiatives to prevent family violence against LGBTIQ people including a comprehensive literature review, a media campaign and funding for action research projects.

Over time, these combined initiatives will build a greater understanding of the nature, risk and protective factors and prevalence of violence experienced by LGBTIQ people, both within the service sector and broader community. This together with investment in sector capacity, and the design of new referral pathways will improve inclusive and more efficient system responses to LGBTIQ people who experience (and perpetrate) family and intimate partner violence.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 02:37

Privacy Policy

WithRespect is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of any information provided by you.

We will:

  • only collect personal information from you with your prior knowledge and consent.
  • only use this information for the purposes for which it was collected.

In terms of the relevant privacy legislation, we ensure that your personal information will not be disclosed to others except if required by law or other regulation.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 02:07

Acknowledgement of Country

WithRespect acknowledges the traditional owners of the land — the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations — and pays respect to their Elders both past and present.

WithRespect acknowledges and apologises to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia for the injustices and trauma suffered as a result of European settlement, the Stolen Generation and other policies, such as the forced removal of children from their families, communities, culture and land.

WithRespect recognises the significant impacts of this history and the fundamental importance of cultural traditions, beliefs and connection to country and land for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people, families and their communities. We recognise Aboriginal culture, community connection, and self-determination are critical protective factors for wellbeing. We therefore are committed to focus on achieving health (including life expectancy) and education equality and responding appropriately to the welfare needs of Aboriginal children and families. This requires our efforts to urgently address disadvantage, including targeting the social determinants of poor health and wellbeing outcomes, and intergenerational experiences of trauma and to do this in a collective and respectful ways.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:52


You can contact w|respect directly by phoning 1800 LGBTIQ (that’s 1800 542 847) or complete the form below.

After hours counselling is available on Wednesday, between 5pm and 11pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, between 10am and 10pm.

If you are a service provider wishing to request a secondary consult, you can complete our Secondary Consult form. You may also wish to view information about How to Provide Feedback or Make a Complaint.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:44

Migrant, multifaith & LGBTIQ

The experiences of multicultural and multifaith (MCMF) LGBTIQ people vary greatly across the wide range and diversity of migrant, refugee and ethno-religious communities in Victoria. It also varies according to other intersectional factors such as length of time in Australia, levels of education, urban or rural locations, and socio-economic status.

While many LGBTIQ people experience strong support from their cultural or faith communities, some experience isolation and discrimination if their sexuality and gender is not accepted by family, friends, community members and leaders, and service providers. The existence of gender and sexual diversity or intersex variations may not be acknowledged in some cultural or faith groups, or it may be seen as due to negative Western influences and lifestyles.

Those who have recently arrived in Australia may be particularly vulnerable due to a limited understanding of the family violence service system. They may also experience fear or mistrust of police and government agencies due to negative past experiences. Uncertainty of migration status can be a particular source of anxiety and vulnerability as well as potential tool of power and control in family violence perpetration, particularly where the abusive partner or family member, such as a father or brother, is the sponsor.

There are provisions in the Migration Act that mean someone can leave the relationship and still obtain permanent residency where their sponsor has acted or threatened to act in a way that made them or someone in their family unit fear for their safety.

These provisions were introduced in response to concerns that some people might remain in an abusive relationship because they believe they may be forced to leave Australia if they end it.

The provisions apply equally to married and de facto couples, and LGBTIQ family members such as siblings and children of a perpetrator.

It is essential applicants contact the Department of Home Affairs when their relationship with their sponsor ends, and notify them about any family violence immediately to avoid the sponsor withdrawing their sponsorship.

Refugee Legal can provide further confidential advice.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:43

Elder abuse and LGBTIQ

Seniors Rights Victoria defines elder abuse as ‘mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust such as a partner, child or other family member, friend or paid carer.’ Where the person is a family member or in a family-like relationship, such abuse will also be family violence.

Older people can be abused by a person they are in a current relationship with or have been in a prior relationship with, including a person who says they are a person’s carer. It is also noted abuse may perpetrated by a family member who is not a carer. Abuse and violence can be exacerbated when others take advantage of or exploit an older LGBTI person’s physical frailty, cognitive challenges or dependence on them. It is vital advocacy services, aged care providers and family violence services support LGBTI elders with information on how to assert their rights in ways which preserve the family relationships they value.

Many older LGBTI people are fearful of the health, care, advocacy and justice systems due to past experiences of persecution, anti-LGBTI legislation, criminalisation and imprisonment of LGBTI people, and harmful medical and psychiatric practices. This can lead to a reluctance to seek support or disclose abuse. This is particularly the case when abuse is due to another person’s response to their LGBTI characteristics, or it is from an intimate partner or other family member: most frequently adult children. Advocacy, aged care and family violence services need to build relationships of trust with LGBTI elders to ensure they feel safe to be out and/or to live in their affirmed gender.

Fears about whether they will be able to access inclusive and appropriate aged care services can be a significant concern for older LGBTI people, particularly for trans and gender diverse people who may fear pressure not to live in their affirmed gender.  Experiences of ageism, the fear of losing independence and concerns they may lose contact with family members who perpetrate abuse, or get them in trouble, may prevent older people seeking help for family violence. This can result in older LGBTI victims remaining in dangerous situations, particularly if they do not trust that aged care providers will respect them.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:43

Young people and family violence

Rejection of LGBTIQ young people by their family of origin, due to their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status, is a strong predictor of internalised stigma, depression and suicidality as well as a range of poor health and wellbeing outcomes, which are risk factors of family and intimate partner violence. Rejection by a family of origin may include the use of physical violence against a young person, neglect, or forced homelessness by eviction from the family home.

Harmful behaviours towards LGBTIQ young people may also include deliberate psychological harm such as exclusion from family activities or cutting them off from LBGTIQ communities/friends, resources or events; expressing shame about the young person; forcing the young person to conceal their LGBTIQ identity or conform to traditional gender stereotypical roles. In addition, there are specific harmful behaviours that intersex or trans and gender diverse people might experience: for example, denial of a person’s gender affirmation or transition, or being forced to undergo medical intervention (surgeries and hormonal treatments) so their bodies fit what is typically considered male or female.

Young LGBTIQ people are more likely to experience bullying and violence both at school and within their family. Exposure to violence at home, in school or the community can make it difficult to identify abuse in a relationship or for young people to ask for help. Young LGBTIQ people may also have their capacity to understand themselves questioned, for instance being told they are too young to know they are transgender.

Protective behaviours may include responding positively to disclosure, speaking openly with the young person about their LGBTIQ identity, affirming and supporting a young person’s gender affirmation/transition, ensuring their bodily autonomy and advocating for them if and when they are mistreated.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:41

First Nations & LGBTIQ

Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or First Nations LGBTIQ people, sistergirls, and brotherboys may experience exclusion or discrimination in their community, friendship or family networks when they disclose their gender diversity, sexuality or intersex status. Conversely, others find their families and communities are a strong source of support.

First Nations people may face difficulties finding services that understand their needs and this may be more challenging when they are also LGBTIQ. First Nations people have a right to services that understand their needs whether they are specialist or mainstream. LGBTIQ First Nations people’s experiences of family violence exist within the context of their communities’ high representation in family violence statistics.

Over the last 10 years in Victoria, four percent of all reports by affected family members of family violence were made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Royal Commission found that these numbers are at least partially reflective of the trauma experienced by First Nation communities due to dispossession. There is a current research gap with regards to family violence among LGBTIQ First Nations people. Current literature suggests many may have had experiences of and/or witnessed family or intimate partner violence during childhood prior to entering intimate partner relationships.

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1800 LGBTIQ | 1800 542 847