FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT AS PRESENTED AT THE AGM, 30 Oct 2003:
The A to Z of political lobbying or that was the year that was
FROM THE ANNUAL REPORT AS PRESENTED AT THE AGM, 30 Oct 2003:
The A to Z of political lobbying or that was the year that was
The last year has been a year of consolidation and achievement; after all it was always going to be a hard ask to follow on from the historic reforms of 2001/2. In the last year the Lobby has worked hard for our community in a number of areas and along the way we have enjoyed unprecedented media exposure for our issues. I thought it might be a good idea to go through a bit of an A to Z of what we have been up to and what's been happening for the last year in advancing the cause of equality and justice for lesbians and gay men. It's not exhaustive, but covers most of what we have been up to and who we've been talking with. Now it doesn't necessarily mean we have the entire Alphabet covered and that's probably a good thing for reasons of libel and slander!
The ALSO Foundation asked VGLRL to support and be a partner in their application for a Grant of $20,000 from the Reichstein Foundation to bring together all the respective State Lobbies to provide a clear focus on how we are going to advance Federal Law Reform.
The application was successful and VGLRL can hardly wait to get started, we plan to have our first meeting in December.
Andrea is the Upper House Liberal member for Monash Province and the Lobby enjoys open and frank dialogue with the State Liberal Party through her.
All the policy positions of the Lobby are well understood within the party and Andrea has facilitated meetings with both State and Federal Liberals. We thank her for her advocacy and look forward to her continued support of our human rights.
Will they or won't they? The question seems set to divide but not conquer the Anglican Church. The Bishops might be fighting, but are they making any progress? Our supporters within the Church need your support and encouragement, now is the time to speak out and up.
Melbourne's own "Queer Eye" that each week brings our diverse community into our (and everyone else's) lounge rooms every Monday night. It might not be as enthralling or have as many viewers as Queer as Folk but it's all our own work and provides an invaluable soap box for those who don't always get heard.
Finally the issue of appropriate birth certificates for men and women of transgender background will be addressed in 2004. After a lot of hard work by The Attorney Generals Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian and Transgender Issues. a discussion paper has been circulated and it's on the legislative agenda of the Government for 2004. It's been a long but very worthwhile road.
BNEWS and Melbourne Star
BNews has become a valuable addition to the GLBTI community, sponsoring this years Rainbow Awards.
The Democrat Senator from WA has been an inspiration for his advocacy of our rights in the Senate. He spoke at "Politics in the Afternoon" and he is our voice within the Democrats. Thanks Brian.
The incoming Health Minister hit the ground running with her commitment to reconvene the Health Ministerial Advisory Committee to address the many health issues that impact on the health of our community We have had a number of meetings with her and she was interviewed on Bent TV's Face to face program, we look forward to working with her in the years ahead.
Adam Pickvance (from ALSO Foundation) and myself visited Canberra in August and met with Senator Nick Cherry. Shadow Minister for Retirement Incomes, Robert McClelland, Shadow Attorney General, Senator Brian Greig, Australian Democrats, and Senator Bob Brown, Australian Greens. We discussed federal same-sex law reform and got strong commitments from each of them to support and foster same sex law reform. We were not able to see anyone from the Government, but we continue to seek a meeting with Federal Treasurer Peter Costello to advocate for federal reform.
Candidate forums and interviews
In association with Bent TV the Lobby held two candidate forums prior to the recent state election. One was for the candidates in Richmond and the other for the candidates in Prahran. They attracted good crowds, were a huge success and all the candidates welcomed the reintroduction of grass roots campaigning for our votes!
On behalf of the Lobby I interviewed a total of ten candidates on Face to Face on Bent TV. This was more than all the commercial channels and the ABC combined.
Just when we thought their hysteria had died down the Catholic Church issued an edict that amongst other things accused us of "Violence against children' when gay and lesbian couples adopt. It also sought to not just stop legislative reform that gave us equal human rights, it sought to roll back existing reforms and called on elected officials to obey the church and not their electors. In another age it might be called sedition.
It has been my pleasure to work with a very talented and committed group of people whose strength is in their diversity. Each and every one of them has worked hard during the year and I look forward to 2004.
With funding from The Department of Justice the Lobby set up the Over the Rainbow Website to provide an accessible community resource that details our rights under law. It's worth a look and you never know you might just find out something you didn't know.
As an independent member of Parliament, representing a conservative country electorate, Susan showed enormous courage in supporting our human rights by voting Tor the Relationships Bill when she knew that her support would most likely cost her votes. Susan deserves our sincere thanks, as without her support the legislation may not have passed. Susan was a vocal supporter of programs to understand and reduce youth suicide throughout her terms in Parliament. Susan was defeated at the 2002 state election.
Best known for Chill Out Festival, but to the Lobby it wasn't just an opportunity to spend some time in the bush but a great chance to give away 4000 Over the rainbow fridge magnets and recruit some more members.
We will be there again next year bigger and better.
In association with Globe we CO-hosted two dinners over the year to recognize the commitment of two special women. The first was for Leonie Burke who lost her seat of Prahran at the last state election. Leonie worked hard for our community and we owe her a huge thank you for "working it" behind the scenes to get Liberal Party support for the Same Sex Relationships Bill which passed in 2001. The second dinner was for Continuing Community Icon, Nan McGregor, who retired after a decade or so at the helm of PFLAG.
Her tireless, and oh so effective, lobbying has achieved significant law reform and change for our community.
In particular for the kids who have come out and their parents who found the going hard have a strong and vibrant PFLAG and Minus 18 to thank Nan for.
Equal Opportunity Commission of Victoria
We have a strong advocate in the Commission who provide the legal framework for the protection of equal rights for our community. The Lobby s~ts on the Victoria Police1 EOCV Committee that works to foster greater understanding of our issues as they relate to the policing of our community. I would like to place on record the sincere appreciation of VGLRL to Jamie Gardiner and the Commission for all the work and time that has been put into this vital task.
Fertility Access Rights have joined with the Lobby to advance same sex parenting rights and fertility access.
Have a look at their report inside this Annual Report.
We continue to be ignored and discriminated against.
Whether it is in Superannuation, Immigration, Human Rights, Taxation, and Family law or in fact every single area of Federal Jurisdiction treats us like second class citizens. It is going to change and the coming year will provide the ideal opportunity with an Election. We intend to make our rights an issue with all federal parties and politicians and we need your support.
That's what we have in Australia. Not only do we suffer significantly greater discrimination federally, but as Lesbians and Gay men our relationships are taxed at a higher rate than heterosexual couples. Our human rights should not come at a cost.
It seems that all the Christian Churches are fighting amongst themselves and with each other in one way or another about us and whether we can be parents, priests or parishioners. A person's faith is their business and their sexuality should be irrelevant. Enough said.
Gay and Lesbian Community Health Resource Unit
In all too rare moment of political bipartisanship the VGLRL secured the written commitment of the Opposition to the Governments innovative policy proposal to fund and establish this unit. It will be a first for Australia and now that Tenders are now closed we can look forward to it starting its work in 2004.
Health Action Plan
The Gay and Lesbian Health action plan is the result of the deliberations of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Health. The Action Plan is a first for an Australian Government and has at its centre the G & L Community Health Resource Unit.
The generosity and importance of our community radio station cannot be underestimated. They have provided The Lobby with regular opportunities to talk to our (and the wider ) community on issues that effect segments and community service announcements that have helped us influence government and garner community support. It is one of our community's most important resources.
This is us and what we do is lobby wherever, whenever and to whomever we can to advocate for equal rights and justice for lesbians and gay men.
Ministerial Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Health
An Australian first - the Lobby continues to play a role in the work of this important committee which will be reconvened. Setup in 1999 and soon to be reconvened, the Lobby has been proud to have a seat at the table all the way through.
Be aware but not alarmed! With VGLRL's exclusive limited edition "Over the Rainbow" fridge magnets you can find out about your rights in the safety of your home or office.
Keeping its collective eye on the issues, and the rest of the community in touch, MCV has been at the forefront and in the foxholes for Melbourne's GLBTI community.
The Lobby has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Melbourne's GLBTI Print, Radio and Television Media.
Their co-operation and support are crucial to engagement with our community.
The Federal Member for Melbourne Ports has been a vital conduit and advocate for the Lobby and our communities rights within the Federal Opposition. Thanks Michael for your support over the last year.
Midsumma commitment ceremony
We had as part of our presence at Midsumma Carnival last year an on site celebrant and floral arch for lesbian and gay couples to commit to each other. More than 30 couples did so and whilst I can't tell you what we are doing for Midsumma 2004 what I will say is that it's like nothing we have ever done before. Next years Carnival will provide a big surprise. Stay tuned!
Provides a safe environment for gays and lesbians under 18 to meet. In the last year they have given VGLRL the opportunity to visit groups of same sex attracted youth out in the suburbs to talk about the Lobby.
Over the Rainbow
The launch of our website over the Rainbow was a huge success and the hard copy book is now in its third reprint. Without the support of the Department of Justice it would not have been possible and I want to place on record our sincere appreciation of their support.
Police Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officers
With the appointment of Christine Nixon as Chief Commissioner the establishment of Gay and Lesbian Liaison officers finally happened in each Police region.
And who could forget it when she marched proudly to support Gay and Lesbian Police officers in Pride March.
Politics in the afternoon
We invited four people to speak 011 "Does gay and lesbian activism need a new direction?" They didn't all agree but it made for an interesting afternoon and provided much food for thought. As part of next year's Midsumma Carnival the topic for debate will be "Health in the Afternoon" - more details will be available later this year.
We need a big contingent for 2004, this is an opportunity to really fly the flag, after all it is our flag!
Queer Film Festival
One of the gems of the Melbourne Queer Community and a big supporter of VGLRL. The opportunity to see representations of our community and issues is all too rare (despite Queer as Folk and other assorted TV shows). The Festival provides a broad insight into our community and the myriad issues we have to deal with. Thanks guys.
Rainbow Families conference
See the Fertility Access Rights report elsewhere in our Annual Report.
The lobby has worked very closely with the Rainbow Sash movement in their quest for equality and justice within the Catholic Church.
Reichstein grant (see Also Foundation)
The State Attorney General Rob Hulls has refused to refer powers to the Commonwealth relating to property disputes unless they are inclusive of all unmarried couples. The Attorney Generals Advisory Committee on Gay and Lesbian Law reform continues its work and is very ably chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary for Justice Jenny Mikakos.
This remains perhaps the biggest single financially discriminatory impost on our lives by the Federal Government. The appalling situation where superannuation benefits that pass to a partner on death are taxed is a disgrace and is nothing less than Financial Apartheid. Recent action in the Senate where the ALP, Greens and Democrats combined to pass amendments removing this impost is just the first shot in what is going to be a long and difficult battle.
Survival of the species
We will be able to do much more for the survival of the species once we achieve equality and justice in Fertility access rights.
Two men and a baby
Lee and Tony courageously allowed a camera crew to film their journey through surrogacy to become parents.
It took their story into the living rooms of suburban Australia as it screened on SBS and it's now on General release. Well done guys and very courageous.
The Uniting Church seems headed for a split over the issue of gay clergy, despite the fact that this has been a reality for some years. Our supporters within the Church need your support and encouragement, now is the time to speak out and up.
The UN has again spoken out in support of our human rights in condemning the Federal Governments non granting of a veterans partner pension to a Gay man following the death of his partner. This case has huge implications for all of us and Australia's international reputation for human rights. The Government is expected to respond in November. We have lobbied the Federal Attorney General on this issue and expect that his response will be a clear pointer to the Government's attitude on this and other discriminatory issues that impact on our community.
We finally have a new female CO-convenor in Lyn Morgain. Lyn has an extensive background in advocacy and public policy development in Canberra and nationally and 20 years of commitment to our communities needs and interests. Lyn is passionate about ensuring that systems, services and institutions adapt and respond to the needs of all communities, in particular our children and young people.
Wizard of Oz
The Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, Jenny Mikakos, launched our "Over the Rainbow Website" at a special showing of this classic Judy Garland movie with sonorous help from the Gay and Lesbian Chorus.
Richard "Dick" Wynne
In his capacity as Parliamentary Secretary for Justice in the first Bracks' Government, Dick chaired the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on G&L Law reform in addition to "shepherding" the Relationships Bill through Parliament and negotiating its passage with the Opposition and the three independents. His vital role went largely unheralded and we place on record our sincere appreciation for his patience, insight, and commitment to our human rights. He is now the Cabinet Secretary and continues to be a strong supporter of further G&L law reform.
X marks the spot
I particularly want to thank Chris Gill and Catherine Roberts for their tireless work on Community Education, our Treasurer Ian Gould for keeping us solvent and to Ruth McNair for her work on Fertility Access Rights. We couldn't have achieved all that we have without you.
Z well there is no Z !
David McCarthy & Lyn Morgain
COMMITTEE FROM 2002 AGM:
Catherine Roberts (to Sept 2003)
Chris Gill (to June 2003)
Craig McCallum (to July 2003)
Female Co-convenor: Catherine Roberts (to Sept 2003)
Female Co-convenor: Lyn Morgain (from Sept 2003)
Male Co-convenor: David McCarthy
Secretary: Craig McCallum (to July 2003)
Secretary: Rachel Kichener (from Sept 2003)
Treasurer: Ian Gould
COMMITTEE MEMBERS CO-OPTED DURING THE 02-03 YEAR
Lyn Morgain and Rachel Kitchener
WORKING GROUPS DURING THE 02-03 YEAR
OUTCOMES OF 2003 AGM:
COMMITTEE FROM 2003 AGM:
Ruth McNair-FAR Representative
OFFICER POSITIONS FROM 2003 AGM:
Female Coconvenor: Lyn Morgain
Male Coconvenor: David McCarthy
Secretary: Rachel Kitchener
Treasurer: Ian Gould
Find a full copy of the 2003 Annual Report