2.1 Organisational Policies

How

Reviewing existing policies

  • Review all existing policies, as well as language used in internal and external communications and resources to ensure they are inclusive of people with diverse genders, sexual orientations, and intersex variations.

  • Consult with LGBTIQ+ representatives and specialist organisations to ensure that they have a voice in policy development and feedback.

  • Any policies for gender-specific services (for example, for women and men) must be inclusive of trans, gender diverse, and nonbinary people, and accommodation should be offered on the basis of self-identified gender, choice, and risk assessment.

  • If there is a dress code for clients, make sure that it is not gender-based and still supports clients to express their identity (Marksamer, Spade, and Arkles 2011).

  • Develop and implement a LGBTIQ+ Communication Policy and train staff in respectful communication, in particular Client Service Officers.

  • Develop and implement a Reconciliation Policy.

  • Ensure respectful policies and procedures for working with LGBTIQ+ clients recognise diversity in the community, and emphasise equity not just equality.

  • Ensure that staff, client, and visitor codes of conduct explicitly acknowledge LGBTIQ+ people, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and diversity policies, and that these are displayed in common areas.

Symbols, Statements and Celebrations

  • Include a clearly visible statement of LGBTIQ+ support and flags on the organisation website.

  • Add LGBTIQ+ flags, statement of support, and staff pronouns to email signatures.

  • Celebrate important dates for LGBTIQ+ people (such as Transgender Day of Visibility, Intersex Awareness Day, Pride, and Wear It Purple).

Example of an inclusive email signature [18]. Adapted from Launch Housing

Example of diversity and inclusion statement.

“All of our guidelines, policies, procedures and practice aim to ensure substantive equality and participation, at all levels of the organisation, regardless of gender identity, age, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, religion, sexual orientation and/or professional background. Our service welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) people”

Adapted from the Lifeview Diversity Statement [19].

Example Code of Conduct.

“Employees must at all times maintain a respectful and appropriate relationship with all clients of this service. They shall deliver quality, inclusive services, regardless of the Resident’s gender identity, age, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, religion, sexual orientation and/or professional background. Discrimination, harassment, any displays of homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and/or bullying of any kind, will not be tolerated within the workplace, and will be dealt with through the performance management and /or existing disciplinary system. Our aim is always the delivery of inclusive and respectful care and services, to all, including people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) communities”.

Adapted from the Lifeview Code of Conduct.

Why

In developing and implementing respectful policies and procedures for working and communicating with LGBTIQ+ clients, it is important to recognise diversity within the community, and the needs of different groups; and, consequently, to emphasise equity, not just equality. Some questions to ask about policies include whether they:

  • Respect multicultural and multifaith identities?

  • Cater for specific needs of international students, temporary residents, and asylum seekers?

  • Cater for specific needs of people with disabilities and promote the Social Model of Disability [20]?

  • Respect and honour the unique experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ people and right to self-determination?

  • Support a separate Reconciliation Policy?

  • Avoid conflating the needs and experiences of people with an intersex variation (or preferred terminology for their individual variation) with those who are trans, gender diverse, and nonbinary?

  • Support diversity within the LGBTIQ+ community regardless of how people identify and whether or not they have had any medical/surgical intervention?

In addition to reviewing organisational policies [21], explicit inclusion of different groups – through flags and other symbolism – on the organisation’s websites and in staff email signatures is a good first step in building rapport. This is especially important for groups who are more often refused services and discriminated against, as these experiences create considerable mistrust. As people may not be in a position to access policies and diversity statements online during a crisis, other symbols and resources communicating that the service is welcoming and inclusive should be visible. Services can also work towards this by engaging with LGBTIQ+ community groups and supporting events where appropriate.

Example anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

“It shall be the policy of the ABC Group Care Facility to maintain and promote a safe environment for all youth in the facility’s care. All ABC staff, volunteers, and contract providers are prohibited from engaging in any form of discrimination against or harassment of youth on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnicity, immigration status, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. ABC is committed to providing a healthy and accepting setting for all youth placed in its facilities by training staff and educating youth to respect each other. Any discrimination against or harassment of youth, including by other youth, will not be tolerated. The provision of services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth in facility programs shall be free of institutional and personal bias and shall be based on the attached practice guidelines and procedures. ABC staff shall recognize and address the individual needs of each youth and shall apply ABC policies and practices fairly to all youth in our facilities. If you have experienced harassment or discrimination in violation of this policy, please file a grievance according to facility policy. All grievances will be reviewed and investigated immediately”.

Marksamer J, Spade D and Arkles G 2011, A Place of Respect: A Guide for Group Care Facilities Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth, National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, United States, p. 51.

18. Note that the intersex flag has not been included. This is to avoid tokenism and to reflect the fact that there are vast gaps in understanding of homelessness and housing support needs among people with intersex variations.

19. Aged care provider.

20. https://pwd.org.au/resources/social-model-of-disability/ 21.For additional suggestions on LGBTI risk management and cultural safety see [email protected] (2017).