A new initiative by ACON, NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation, is calling for businesses to show their support for diversity and inclusivity by getting involved in the Welcome Here Project.
The Welcome Here Project aims to support local business owners and organisations to create and promote environments that are visibly welcoming and inclusive of LGBTIQ people.
It is a relaunch of the popular Safe Place Project, which was set up in 1992 in response to high levels of street-based violence directed at members of LGBTIQ communities.
ACON President Justin Koonin said the new shape and function of The Welcome Here Project reflects a continuing need to focus on creating welcoming and inclusive environments for all Australians.
“This change is in recognition that although anti-LGBTIQ attitudes and behaviour have changed over time in how they manifest, it is still prevalent in our communities and continues to have negative effects on the health of LGBTIQ people,” Koonin said.
“Even with the progress made in broader social acceptance of LGBTIQ people from when the Safe Space program was first launched, instances of abuse and harassment still occur and protecting LGBTIQ people is a critical determinant of the health of our communities.”
The Welcome Here Project is targeted at community-based organisations and commercial businesses like local cafes, supermarkets, bars, restaurants, gyms, theatres, cinemas, and other businesses throughout Australia. The revised project will also strengthen its focus on building inclusive communities in high need areas including outer suburban and regional locations.
From The Welcome Here Project website, members of the public can find out the location of Welcome Here members, as well as nominate businesses and organisation to become members. So far, over 350 venues have already signed up for the new project.
Similar to the Safe Space Project, Welcome Here members will display an eye-catching sticker on their premises and publically display a Welcome Here Charter, which outlines the principles that underpin the project.
“Research shows us that experiences of discrimination, prejudice, harassment and exclusion affect health outcomes in LGBTIQ communities, including issues around mental health and sexual health, as well as problematic alcohol and other drug abuse. That’s why The Welcome Here project continues to be as relevant and needed as ever,” Koonin said.
“Environments that are free of LGBTIQ-prejudice, discrimination and harassment and are inclusive, helps strengthen the health and wellbeing of our communities. The Welcome Here Project is an important initiative for creating a sense of inclusiveness and comfort for LGBTIQ people. The revitalised project is about celebrating LGBTIQ diversity and working together to build on the strengths and successes of the past and recent years, to create and maintain safe and supportive communities now and into the future.”