Quick Exit
With Respect is not a crisis response service. For crisis responses phone:
  • 000 Victoria Police for immediate safety
  • 1800 RESPECT family violence and sexual assault 24-hour telephone support
  • 1800 015 188 Safe Steps Victoria available 24 hours for crisis support for women
To leave this site quickly, click the quick exit button.


Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:13

Crisis Accomodation

Specialist Family Violence Services and Safe Steps

LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence may choose to access mainstream family violence services. These services were established largely to respond to heterosexual family violence for women and children, and are working towards ensuring their services are LGBTIQ inclusive.

Safe Steps is the 24-hour crisis response service for women and children which can provide 24 hour advice and referrals to specialist family violence services as well as access to crisis accommodation.

Safe accommodation for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence

A number of options exist for people wishing to stay in their homes including accessing flexible support packages, changing locks and removing people using violence from the lease.

For those requiring crisis accommodation, there are currently few options for people who don’t identify as women. This is one of the key challenges in supporting LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence.

Even where there are services, there may be other barriers in accessing crisis accommodation such as discrimination or harassment from neighbours or other residents. This may also be used as a justification to exclude someone from accessing a service. More detailed information on housing options can be found in our Practice Guide.

Barriers for LGBTIQ people accessing housing

In addition to the lack of refuge accommodation for men and non-binary people experiencing family violence, some LGBTIQ people may face barriers to accessing housing based on discrimination or harassment from neighbours or other residents in crisis accommodation. This may also be used as a justification to exclude. When considering housing options, it is important to clarify policies and procedures with emergency housing support services and whether they have ways to prevent and respond to these sorts of incidents and whether they have embedded cultural safety for LGBTIQ people.

More information is available below.

Options for leaving home

If a person experiencing family violence has to leave their home, there are a number of options including refuge or other crisis accommodation, moving in with friends or family or, if they can afford it, finding a private rental property. Safe Steps, Victims Support Agencyaccommodation and other specialist family violence services will be able to refer people to refuge and crisis accommodation, however often LGBTIQ people may have complex needs and require support and warm referrals to ensure that accommodation is accessible and safe.

Flexible support packages, available to people experiencing family violence and their children, can assist people with funding for setting up a new home or for crisis accommodation. They are only available through case workers in a family violence service, including through w/respect.


All women (including transgender women) and children who need urgent high-security accommodation have the right to access family violence specialist services including refuges, depending on a risk assessment by a specialist family violence service. Refuge accommodation is limited and operates on a 6-week stay model. All refuges currently have exemptions from the Equal Opportunity Act meaning that they are able to restrict their services to women and accompanying children. The VHREOC Guideline provides more information on how to ensure inclusive practice in accommodation.

Other crisis accommodation

There is also a range of crisis and specialist housing and homelessness support services available in Victoria for women, men, non-binary people and young people. These services may be able to assist people depending on area and eligibility criteria. Most people experiencing violence who need crisis accommodation and who are unable to stay in refuge are directed to a Homelessness Access Point set up across the state. These services also function as a gateway to transitional housing, subsidised rental programs and long-term social housing.

There is a regularly updated list of these services on the Department of Human Services website or people can find their nearest crisis housing service by phoning 1800 825 955 (24 hours, statewide and toll free).

Social Housing

LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence may also apply for social housing assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services. An online application can be lodged by any individual as a ‘Register of Interest’ on the Victorian Housing Register. ‘Priority Access’ is for people needing housing more urgently or who are particularly vulnerable or at risk. Homelessness Access Points can assist with the application process. Generally, to be eligible for these services, people will need to be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and receive a regular income from either welfare benefits or employment (eligibility thresholds apply). Waiting times can vary depending on people’s circumstances and the geographical areas they choose to live but can be many months or years.

Tenancy Plus is a program which supports people already living in social housing who are experiencing risk to their tenancy (caused by family violence or any other reason). Local Homelessness Access Points can provide more information.

Staying at home

Recent changes to the law mean that people experiencing family violence now have more support to stay in their home. This should be encouraged in the first instance provided it is safe for them to do so and appropriate risk assessment and safety planning is in place. People experiencing family violence residing in both social/government housing and private rental have legal rights to remain in the property, in some circumstances even if they are not named on the lease. If they reside in social housing, DHHS can arrange and pay for an urgent locks change.

If there is a police-issued Family Violence Safety Notice or a full FVIO in place, one of the conditions will be that the person using violence is excluded from the home. It will be a breach of the order and a criminal offence for that person to enter the home. For renters, the Tenants Union of Victoria has a family violence protection tenancy kit and can provide advice about how to have the locks changed, receive consideration for rental arrears and have people using violence removed from the lease. Funding for additional safety measures to enhance a home’s security, known as a ‘safe at home’ or ‘personal safety initiative’ response is available via either Victims of Crime funding or a Family Violence Flexible Support Package (FSP). This can pay for items and services such as tech safety advice, surveillance sweeps of cars and premises, personal safety alarms, CCTV cameras, deadlocks.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:11

Victims Support Agency

The Victims Support Agency (VSA) is part of the Department of Justice & Regulation. The VSA is responsible for coordinating a suite of services within Victoria for victims of crime against the person. The VSA operates the Victims of Crime Helpline, and funds the statewide Victims Assistance Program (VAP).

The VSA is the primary source of assistance for male victims of family violence.The Victims of Crime Helpline (1800 819 817, 8am-11pm, 7 days per week) provides information, support and referrals for all victims of crime, including male victims of family violence. The Helpline receives all L17 report police referrals for male victims of family violence and this will continue following the introduction of the Orange Door hubs, although men can also opt to receive services from the hub.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:10

The Orange Door

The Orange Door is one of the central reforms flowing from the Royal Commission. The Orange Door sites (also referred to as the Support and Safety Hubs) are designed to be the primary access points for female-identified people experiencing family violence and their children, family services and perpetrator services. While the Victims Support Agency will continue to be the main service supporting male-identified people experiencing family violence, they may also choose to access The Orange Door.

There will be seventeen Orange Door sites across the state, with a staged roll out to be completed by 2021. More details are available on the Victorian Government’s web site.

The Orange Door provides:

  • an initial contact point with the latest information and referrals
  • a crisis response, including practical assistance, within business hours (with Safe Steps and the Men’s Referral Service continuing to receive referrals out of hours)
  • immediate referrals to specialist services such as legal advice, accommodation, medical treatment and care, and coordination with protective services (such as Victoria Police) to provide flexible responses tailored to individual needs.

Some things to be aware of if you are considering referring LGBTIQ people to The Orange Door:

  • The complete rollout of all 17 Orange Door sites covering the state will not be until 2020-22.
  • LGBTIQ people may prefer to go to an LGBTIQ service such as w/respect, or may request The Orange Door refer them to w/respect. Secondary consults are available to the Orange Door from w/respect.
  • The Orange Door is open to anyone experiencing or perpetrating family violence. Men experiencing family violence have traditionally been referred to the Victims Support Agency but if they choose to receive support from The Orange Door, that will also be available.
  • Over time The Orange Door will undergo Rainbow Tick accreditation and there is specific practice guidance for workers within The Orange Door in relation to working with LGBTIQ people, but this capacity will take some time to develop.
Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:06

Police and the Justice System

It is critical people call 000 if they are in immediate danger. The police have a responsibility to take immediate action to protect life and property, and support anyone experiencing violence or the threat of violence.

Police have wide ranging powers to deal with family violence. They can conduct searches of people and residences to ensure the safety of the parties involved. Police can too, refer a person experiencing violence to support services. Police can also arrest people for criminal offences, detain someone who is using violence against another person and issue a Family Violence Safety Notice to bring someone before the court. A court can then impose a Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) to impose conditions on the person committing violence.

People experiencing family violence can also apply for an FVIO directly to the Magistrates’ Court. This can be done either online, or in person at a court where a registrar can assist, and does not have to involve the police.

See Legal Aid for more information on Family Violence Safety Notices and Family Violence Intervention Orders.

If it is not an emergency, someone experiencing family violence can call or attend their local police station to report threats, abuse and violence. LGBTIQ Liaison Officers (GLLOs) are designated officers within Victoria Police who are trained to assist LGBTIQ people with a broad range of issues including family violence. Victoria Police GLLOs can assist by providing discreet, non-judgmental advice and assistance in the reporting of crimes, including where someone is the target of prejudice or hatred based on their sexuality or gender identity. GLLOs can support people to work out the most suitable process for reporting the matter, and can provide expert advice and assistance to police investigators. More information, including the list of GLLOs and their contact numbers, is available on the Victoria Police website.

Please note that GLLOs are not available at every police station and are not available 24 hours a day.

Practice considerations


Research shows some LGBTIQ victim/survivors distrust police and are cautious about seeking help. This is due to a history of trauma and violence enacted by police against LGBTIQ people, and a history of poor or discriminatory responses. For example, the 2008 Coming Forward survey conducted in Victoria found only 6% of LGBTIQ participants who reported intimate partner violence to police were referred on to further support services.

This historical distrust is a key barrier for LGBTIQ people engaging with police and seeking help for family violence. LGBTIQ people may have concerns about reporting violence to the police, so support from others might be needed. Some concerns might be:

  • Their experience of violence may not be believed or validated (for example where a victim is male-identified);
  • Their relationships may not be recognised or respected;
  • Their personal information and details of their sexuality, gender and/or biological sex characteristics may be disclosed inappropriately;
  • There are no services to meet their needs;
  • The police may be homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, intersexphobic;
  • The custody of their children may be questioned if they have unconventional family structures or roles.


There is considerable work being done within Victoria Police to address these issues, and there are specific roles and programs within Victoria Police which have been designed to improve the response to LGBTIQ people — notably the GLLOs.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:03

Referral pathways for people seeking help

As the Royal Commission noted, LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence have tended not to access formal supports, but rather sought support among friends and community members, if at all. This reflects barriers LGBTIQ people currently experience when accessing the service system and its limited capacity to respond to circumstances where family or intimate partner violence characteristics do not resemble a traditional cisgendered heteronormative model.

With the reform of the service system following the Royal Commission, there are emerging pathways for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence, and work towards improved responses from existing mainstream services is in progress.

The following are some service pathways for LGBTIQ people experiencing family violence to seek support:

Specialised services

Thursday, 05 March 2020 01:00

Family violence & LGBTIQ

There are additional unique forms of family violence in LGBTIQ communities. It is also important to understand the context of historical and contemporary discrimination and the limited effectiveness of applying a heterosexual, gendered lens to family and intimate partner violence among LGBTIQ people: for example, response models and interventions based on binary notions of victim/perpetrator.



A recent literature review by OurWatch has found:


  • Rates of intimate partner violence within lesbian, gay and queer relationships are as high as the rates experienced by cisgender women in intimate heterosexual relationships.
  • Lesbians are more likely than gay men to report having been in an abusive relationship.
  • Rates of intimate partner violence may be higher for bisexual, trans and gender diverse people.
  • It is unknown how rates of intimate partner and/or family violence against people with intersex people compare as there is a research gap.


Violence from other family members may also be higher, particularly against trans and gender-diverse young people. Some examples are:


  • Young people who come out about their sexuality or gender being kicked out of the family home.
  • Elderly, dependant trans women being denied access to hormone treatment by their children.

Structural violence


LGBTIQ people can experience all the dynamics attributed to heterosexual intimate partner violence, as understood by the mainstream family violence sector. However, they are also more likely to experience structural violence. For example, people in LGBTIQ communities can have difficult relationships with family of origin and experience stigma based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, choice of partner or family form. They may also be more likely to experience complex, stigmatised and often intersecting risk factors for family violence, such as: alcohol or other drug use, depression, anxiety, suicidality, neurodiversity, HIV-positive status, chronic illness or disability, sex work and homelessness. These intersecting issues need to be considered alongside increased vulnerability to family violence among particular groups of people such as young people, older people, people with disabilities, people with a mental illness or chronic health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from multicultural communities.
Not only can this put them at higher risk of family violence, but it may also create barriers to help-seeking. These intersecting issues need to be considered alongside increased vulnerability to family violence among particular groups of people such as young people, older people, people with disabilities, people with a mental illness or chronic health conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from multicultural communities.


Sexual Violence

Within Australia, research examining rates of sexual violence within LGBTIQ communities is scarce and the rates of sexual violence experienced by LGBTIQ people vary across studies. A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that among the general population, almost 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15. In the Victorian Coming Forward report, 1 in 20 (5 percent) LGBTIQ respondents reported sexual assault in the past two years, and in Private Lives, the rate of reporting sexual assault in the past year was 2.6 percent for lesbian women and 2.2 percent for gay men. It has been noted limited or problematic means for defining and measuring sexual violence in research may result in lower disclosure rates. Research indicates trans and gender diverse people are at a higher risk of experiencing sexual violence. In Australia, the Private Lives report found trans women respondents were 2.5 times more likely to report sexual violence than the rest of the survey sample. Internationally, studies reviewed by Our Watch indicate higher rates of sexual violence have been reported in trans and gender diverse communities, yet this is an understudied area of research (Scottish Transgender Alliance, 2010). Despite the dearth of research in the area, it is also believed rates of sexual violence experienced by people with intersex variations are the same or higher than non-intersex people. In the study Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia some participants reported the shame and stigma associated with their intersex status and/or related medical interventions “made them more susceptible to sexually abusive dynamics”. Our Watch cites international research which indicates bisexual women may experience high levels of sexual violence (Barrett & Pierre, 2013), with one study by the Centre for Disease Control finding that 74.9 percent of bisexual women reported sexual violence in their lifetime (Walters & Lippy, 2016).

Risk factors of Family Violence for LGBTIQ people

At present, there is no comprehensive or evidence-based framework to understand LGBTIQ people’s experiences of family violence, or a framework for addressing LGBTIQ people who use violence in a family setting. This is due in part to a lack of research and due to a default focus on heterosexual cisgendered men’s violence against heterosexual cisgendered women among family violence services. While there is currently no evidence-based list of risk factors for LGBTIQ populations, existing literature suggests some correlations between the following, and both victimisation or perpetration of family and intimate partner violence:

  • Discrimination and marginalisation (“minority stress”);
  • A pressure to portray LGBTIQ relationships as ‘perfect’ to gain greater social acceptance;
  • Heteronormative understandings of gender roles/sexual roles including in relation to parenting roles and expectations (particularly relevant to trans women whose gender identity is often the target of violence);
  • Lack of safe, appropriate services and support and/or knowledge of specialist services where available;
  • Greater social isolation experienced by LGBTIQ people, especially in rural areas
  • Internalised homo/bi/intersex/transphobia;
  • History of childhood abuse (which may also impact on likelihood of help-seeking);
  • Power imbalances in the relationship, e.g. in decision-making;
  • Lower level of education and lower socioeconomic status;
  • Substance abuse and misuse;
  • Poor mental health;
  • Financial dependence;
  • Co-dependency/reliance.

Barriers to accessing support

LGBTIQ people experience many barriers to identifying, reporting and recovering from family violence. These include:

  • The dominant understanding of family violence as always involving a cisgender male perpetrator and cisgender female victim leading to the invisibility of those outside this paradigm. This can result in a lack of recognition by mainstream service providers, bystanders and those experiencing violence to recognise family violence directed at and perpetrated by LGBTIQ people. Similar dominant understandings impact the visibility of family violence towards people with disabilities, young and elderly people and people in care relationships creating a compounding effect for LGBTI people who have these intersectional identities;
  • LGBTIQ people’s distrust of mainstream services due to fears or previous experiences of institutional or interpersonal prejudice, discrimination or inappropriate responses;
  • Fears among victims from LGBTIQ communities that their experience of violence may not be believed or validated (for example where a victim is male or the perpetrator is female);
  • The limitations and gaps in inclusive services and referral pathways: for example, the lack of safe housing options for men and gender-diverse/nonbinary people;
  • Services lacking an understanding of key issues for example:
    • Knowing the differences between sex, gender and sexuality and the impact of misgendering someone,
    • How to appropriately distinguish between a victim/survivor and a perpetrator in intimate partner incidents,
    • The legal rights of rainbow families.


Thursday, 05 March 2020 00:57


To assist readers understand the terminology used on this web site short, non-exclusive definitions of key words are provided below.

Bisexual: a person who is romantically and sexually attracted to individuals of their own gender and other genders.

Cisgender: When a person is cisgender, they identify as the gender that traditionally matches the sex that they were assigned at birth.

Gay: a person who identifies as a man and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other people who identify as men. The term gay can also be used in relation to women who are sexually and romantically attracted to other women. Both cis and transgender people may identify as gay.

Gender Diverse: an umbrella term that acknowledges the many different ways people may identify their gender. Examples include: agender, genderfluid, non-binary and genderqueer. It is important to remember gender identity is not a sexual orientation.

Intersex: Intersex Human Rights Australia provides a simple definition of intersex:  Intersex people are born with physical sex characteristics that don’t fit medical and social norms for female or male bodies.

Lesbian: an individual who identifies as a woman and is sexually and/or romantically attracted to other people who identify as women. Both cis and transgender women may identify as lesbians.

LGBTIQ: This is an acronym to refer to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer people collectively. This is used within this document at times to when referring to experiences shared by these communities. It is also used with the acknowledgement some people may identify as more than one cohort, and people are not these cohorts simultaneously.

Open relationship: Where people have an agreement that they will engage in additional relationships beyond the one that they share. These relationships can be a combination of physical and/or romantic and are practiced by people from mainstream and LGBTIQ communities alike.

Polyamory: The practice of engaging in more than one relationship at any given time, with all parties knowing about these. These relationships can be a combination of physical and/or romantic connection and can be engaged in by people from mainstream and LGBTIQ communities alike.

Queer: The term ‘queer’ is a politicised term and often used as a reaction against pressures to be heterosexual, or pressure that non-heterosexuals, intersex and non-cis people should express themselves only in ways acceptable to the heterosexual mainstream. Like many terms used within the LGBTIQ communities, the use of the word ‘queer’ is not universal. Some people find this term offensive due to its original use as a derisive word, and due to this prior association prefer not to use or reclaim it. As a result, although it is also sometimes used as an umbrella term to describe the full range of LGBTIQ identities, this is not encouraged.

Rainbow Families: Rainbow families are families where one or more people of a family are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, intersex, queer and non-binary parent or carers including prospective parents and their children.

Sistergirl/Brotherboy: These are terms used for transgender people within some Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities. Sistergirls and Brotherboys have distinct cultural identities and roles.

Sistergirls are Indigenous women who were classified male at birth but live their lives as women, including taking on traditional cultural female practices.

Brotherboys are Indigenous men who were classified female at birth but “choose to live their lives as male, regardless of which stage/path medically they choose”.

Transgender: The term transgender (or trans) is an umbrella term referring to people whose gender identity is different to what was assumed at birth based on the sex that they were assigned. A transgender person may identify as specifically transgender, or simply as male or female, or outside of these binaries.

Thursday, 05 March 2020 00:47

What is Family Violence?

Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic), family violence is:

  • behaviour by a person towards a family member of that person if that behaviour
    • is physically or sexually abusive; or
    • is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
    • is economically abusive; or
    • is threatening; or
    • is coercive; or
    • in any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person; or
  • behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of, behaviour referred to in paragraph (a).

It is important to note these behaviours can be used via telecommunications (e.g. internet or phone) as well as in person.

Definition of family

The definition of family in the Protection Act is inclusive, and includes:

  • Biological family
  • Kin relationships
  • Marriage, de facto or intimate personal relationships (including lesbian, gay or queer relationships)
  • Parents and children who are not related biologically (including rainbow families)
  • Children who usually reside with another person (e.g. foster children)
  • Children of partners
  • Current and former relationships
  • People living in the same house
  • People living in the same residential facility and who are reliant on care (‘family like’)
  • The carer of a person with a disability if the person regards the carer as a family member.

For LGBTIQ people, this can also include families of choice: friends and community members who play the role of family particularly where families of origin are unsupportive or estranged.

Intimate personal relationships may be monogamous, open or polyamorous, short or long term, live-in or not, married or not, or long distance, both physical and emotional, primarily physical or primarily emotional.

Wednesday, 04 March 2020 13:34


WithRespect – 1800 LGBTIQ

WithRespect is a new specialist LGBTIQ family violence service funded by the Victorian government in 2017. Its role is to both support people in LGBTIQ communities and their families affected by family violence as well as build the capacity of the integrated family services and specialist family violence system.

WithRespect is a partnership of four LGBTIQ specialist organisations who bring to the service key areas of LGBTIQ service and support specialisation which will be critical elements of the service model:

What does WithRespect do?


WithRespect has been developed to provide the full public health spectrum of prevention, early intervention and tertiary responses for:

  • LGBTIQ people who are, may be, or at risk of experiencing family violence or intimate partner violence;
  • LGBTIQ people who are, think they may be, or at risk of using violence against a family member/s or partner.



WithRespect is not a crisis response service — people in immediate danger should contact 000.


WithRespect is part of the broader family violence service system and provides:


  • Counselling, case management and recovery programs for LGBTIQ victim/survivors of family violence.
  • Programs for LGBTIQ people using violence with the goal that they stop using violence and abuse.
  • Expertise and secondary consultation to agencies who have been the primary contact in LGBTIQ family violence cases such as the police and courts, early childhood and other education providers, primary health and hospitals, maternal and child health and other peri-natal services, AOD and mental health providers, child protection, and integrated and specialised family services.



WithRespect’s key aims are:



  • To reduce intimate partner and family violence in LGBTIQ communities through violence prevention and early intervention activities.
  • To provide effective and appropriate family and intimate partner violence services for LGBTIQ people, their children and families.
  • Provide effective perpetrator interventions for LGBTIQ communities to cease or reduce people’s use of violence and encourage them to recognise and take responsibility for their actions.
  • To build evidence around prevention and responses to family and intimate partner violence experienced by LGBTIQ people, their children and families.
  • To build evidence around perpetrator interventions targeted at LGBTIQ people.


What is an Integrated LGBTIQ Family Violence Service?


The Integrated Service Response model is available for those people experiencing family violence who want an holistic response. This service model provides a perpetrator case specialist and a victim case specialist who work collaboratively to ensure a whole of family approach to service provision. Rather than separating service responses, the service responses for victim and perpetrator in this integrated model are coordinated and supported by a practice lead. They provide the case planning and coordination of the work with both parties. This ensures the safety of victims alongside the engagement with perpetrators who are encouraged to address and abstain from using violence. Alternatively, where a person experiencing violence does not want an integrated response or it is inappropriate to do so, the needs of that person and the person using violence against them are accommodated within separate LGBTIQ-inclusive Family Violence Services.


Intake and referral


Any LGBTIQ person, their family or friends, who are affected by family violence can contact w|respect directly on 1800 LGBTIQ during business hours, Monday – Friday. After hours counselling is available on Wednesday, between 5pm and 11pm, and on Saturday and Sunday, between 10am and 10pm. Services working with LGBTIQ communities, their families or friends who are affected by family violence can refer people for Intake and Referral for support via 1800 LGBTIQ, fax 03 9639 3363. The specialised Intake team can take immediate referrals and are also available to provide secondary consultation and support to other organisations. Consultation may be required regarding the service needs of LGBTIQ clients, their families and friends who are affected by family violence, or in relation to other issues which contribute to their health and wellbeing.

Tuesday, 03 March 2020 12:21

Victims Support Agency

The Victims Support Agency (VSA) is the primary source of assistance for male victims of family violence. 


Victims of Crime Helpline 

1800 819 817 

8am-11pm, 7 days per week 

Provides information, support and referrals for all victims of crime, including male victims of family violence. 

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1800 LGBTIQ | 1800 542 847