2.2 Procedures and Facilities

How

Planning and monitoring to improve services and facilities

  • Conduct an internal audit on LGBTIQ+ inclusivity [22] to inform quality improvement planning, and link with audits of cultural diversity and accessibility.

  • Ensure that planned service improvements reflect LGBTIQ+ needs. Monitor needs over time, and adjust services to meet changing and emerging needs as required.

  • Include LGBTIQ+-specific supports and accommodation options where possible in a range of housing models and following Housing First Principles.

  • Consider co-location of other mainstream services including health and justice – for example, to help LGBTIQ+ people who may want to speak with a lawyer on site. Provide community legal education presentations so that staff and clients can learn about rights, responsibilities, and discrimination.

  • Ensure the accommodation has gender inclusive bathrooms and toilets, single stalls, lockable doors, shower curtains, at least one shower that is completely private.

  • Have clear signs to all facilities, without assuming which option/s individuals prefer (Gooch 2011).

  • Ensure the service is fully accessible, including but not limited to stairs, bathroom, and toilet facilities.

  • Ensure there is a place where people can practice their faith and religion without fear of judgement, including a dedicated prayer room that can be used for all denominations, with Muslim prayer time clearly visible.

  • Support staff and allies in establishing a Zero Tolerance approach to discrimination (National LGBTI Health Alliance 2013).

  • Ensure that complaints pathways are visible, taken seriously, and managed appropriately, including options that are: Formal and informal;

  • Internal and external (including state/territory and national), and

  • Identified and anonymous.

Workforce

  • Promote inclusion of LGBTIQ+ people and peer leadership in the workforce by:

    • Including specific mention in staff recruitment advertisements;

    • Having LGBTIQ+ inclusive questions in all interviews;

    • Including LGBTIQ+ people on interview selection panels;

    • Supporting other opportunities for LGBTIQ+ peer-led projects and programs in the organisation;

    • Emphasising the importance and value of diversity and lived experience in the workforce;

    • Having at least 50% representation of professionals with LGBTIQ+ lived experience on advisory groups or steering committees for homelessness and housing projects that are specifically focused on LGBTIQ+ populations;

    • Promoting continuous dialogue between lived experience, practice, and evidence-building, and

    • Not relying on one particular ‘champion’ but endorsing a whole of organisation approach and supporting networks of champions across organisations.

Example interview questions that include multiple marginal identities.

“What barriers might a person who identifies as [identity/experience] face in accessing a Specialist Homelessness Service?”

Many different people access [organisation]. Tell me about a situation when you worked effectively with a person who had a previous experience of discrimination (for example, on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, or disability), how did you build trust and rapport?”

What to look for:

  • Awareness and understanding of specific experiences of discrimination;

  • Able to identify barriers to service and access. For example, discrimination, misgendering, facilities, previous experiences of harassment or violence;

  • Non-judgemental approach, and

  • Acknowledgement of the importance of respectful communication, confidentiality, cultural safety, privacy, and appropriate referrals.

Adapted from Launch Housing

Why

LGBTIQ+ people experience increased risks and barriers in mainstream facilities; and have diverse, often complex needs. To promote better outcomes, a trauma-informed and recovery-oriented approach is helpful, in addition to following Housing First principles where possible, and being able to offer a range of other housing-led approaches and accommodation options that create choice (Ecker 2017; Abramovich 2016c).

An initial internal audit will help inform a quality improvement plan that ensures service developments reflect the needs of LGBTIQ+ clients, and changing needs over time through monitoring and review; as well as supporting an inclusive workforce. In addition, a supportive approach to feedback and complaints as they arise will help address systemic discrimination, increase confidence, and promote cultural change across the organisation and sector. Ten basic questions that managers can ask here include:

  1. Are there accommodation options for LGBTIQ+ people that are culturally safe and consistent with Housing First principles? [23]

  2. Is LGBTIQ+ specific support available (if desired by the individual)?

  3. Is a Zero Tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment being upheld, and supported through appropriate staff training?

  4. Are the building and facilities fully accessible?

  5. Are there gender inclusive toilets and clear signage?

  6. Do bathrooms have lockable doors?

  7. Is there at least one shower that is completely private?

  8. Are there safe spaces for people to practice and retain their faith?

  9. Are feedback, complaints, and other consumer participation processes supported?

  10. Is LGBTIQ+ leadership, diversity, and lived experience, valued and supported in the workplace?

Example LGBTIQ-inclusive content in job advertisements and position descriptions.

“[Organisation] is an Equal Opportunity employer and supports accessible working arrangements for all. This includes people with a disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, culturally, religiously and linguistically diverse people, young people, older people, women, and people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender diverse, intersex or queer. We acknowledge Lived Experience as a unique expertise, and encourage people with a Lived Experience of Homelessness to apply.”

Adapted from Launch Housing

22. An example audit tool is available on the website: http://www.lgbtihomeless.org.au/resources/for-service-providers/ 22.Housing as a human right, harm reduction, and offering housing first.