Victorian Police plan to hold a town hall for LGBTQIA+ communities following a damning report last month that found three in five queer people don’t trust them (*pretends to be shocked*).
On Tuesday the 14th of December at 3pm to 6pm at St Kilda’s Victoria Pride Centre, Victoria Police will listen to up to 130 people’s concerns about the way the institution interacts with the local LGBTQIA+ communities and work towards shared solutions.
Per the official description of the event, the panel will talk about:
- “Key elements of transparency and accountability that the LGBTQIA+ community require [and/or] expect of Victoria Police.”
- “Actions needed to improve community confidence and trust in Victoria Police.”
- “Opportunities for engagement between police and LGBTQIA+ communities in the future.”
However, there are a few problems with it.
Local Naarm residents, like gay Wailwan and Wiradjuri Man Frank Gafa, feel that the logistical setup of the event actually discourages community members from attending. Specifically, that feeling is due to the fact the event run by police – aka the very people the criticisms are aimed at – begins at 3pm on a weekday, doesn’t specify who is attending the panel, and has no live virtual means for people to join in the conversation.
The Guardian’s Josh Taylor claims he was told that Victorian Police plan to close the event off to the press. Information regarding the event has been allegedly selectively shared, too, “which is the problem”.
“My understanding is it hasn’t been publicised much, just circulated among select groups,” he said.
A spokesperson for Victoria Police’s LGBTQIA+ Portfolio encouraged people to “disseminate [the event] throughout your networks as far and wide as possible, particularly with groups you think should be part of the conversation who haven’t had a chance to in the past”.
While members of the press will reportedly be turned away, the town hall will be hosted by radio station JOY FM’s David McCarthy.
According to Joshua Badge, the station has allegedly previously voted in support of police in uniform at Pride. To me, this all suggests that Victoria Police is trying to control the conversation at this event.
In a statement shared with PEDESTRIAN.TV, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Paterson said that the state’s police force hope to “engage directly with Victoria’s LGBTIQ community, listen to their issues and concerns, and ensure we are delivering a policing service that meets their needs into the future”.
“The event is designed to encourage open and genuine conversations with the LGBTIQ community and it’s for this reason the meeting is not open to all members of the public or the media.”
PEDESTRIAN.TV also reached out to Victoria’s Minister for Police Lisa Neville regarding this story, but were told to reach out to the institution itself. You’d think that the minister for the literal police would have something to say about all the fuckery going on in their ministry but go off, I guess.