Earlier this month the Australian LGBTQI+ community celebrated Mardi Gras, with a theme of “We Rise.” Conjuring up images of triumph over adversity, overcoming fear, love, and continuing to advocate for equality.
Such sentiments are welcome after what was a difficult 2020 for all. But despite the message that “we are all in this together,” my research has shown that this was not quite the case. Tasmania’s lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ+) communities were particularly impacted by COVID-19, with many of the issues we face being exacerbated by the stresses of the pandemic.
So, in what is a welcome development, this year the Tasmanian Government has partnered with UTAS researchers – myself and Associate Professor Angela Dwyer – to carry out the first ever major government-funded survey of LGBTIQ+ people’s experiences in Tasmania.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Not another survey!”
But hear me out! If you are a queer Tasmanian, this one is incredibly important for our community. The Tasmanian Government will use the results from this survey to inform policy and service provision in our state.
Lead researcher, Associate Professor Dwyer said “the aim of this survey is to gather information about what it’s like to be LGBTIQ+ in Tasmania, which will help those in government make decisions when it comes to this diverse community.”
The survey covers a wide range of LGBTIQ+ experiences, including in Tasmanian workplaces, schools, healthcare services, and interactions with police and emergency management.
“Having more insight into the needs and experiences of LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians will also contribute to developing equitable and inclusive policies and services for everyone,” Associate Professor Dwyer said.
Long-time LGBTIQ+ community advocate and former Tasmanian of the Year, Rodney Croome, said he was very pleased the Tasmanian Government has taken this initiative, “it gives the LGBTIQ+ community an unprecedented opportunity to shape Government policies and programs”.
“Despite the progress Tasmania has made, LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians still suffer higher levels of discrimination, abuse and stigma, and the poorer educational and mental health outcomes that arise from discrimination,” said Mr Croome.
“I urge all LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians to take the survey and send a strong message to the Government that much more needs to be done before there is full equality, inclusion and acceptance for LGBTIQ+ people.”
Want to be involved? We are now seeking survey participants.
If you live in Tasmania, are aged 16 or over and describe yourself as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or someone with an intersex variation, queer, questioning, non-binary, asexual or otherwise sexuality or gender diverse, you are invited to complete the survey online at: https://bit.ly/39N3aSY and go in the draw to win an iPad!
“This is an important opportunity for LGBTIQ+ people from all walks of life to share their stories with us and to have their voices heard” Associate Professor Dwyer said.
In the spirit of this year’s Mardi Gras theme, this is an opportunity for LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians to rise up, to share our stories, and to change the future of Tasmania for the better.
Dr Ruby Grant (she/her) is a Lecturer in Sociology at UTAS specialising in sexuality studies and LGBTQ+ identity, health, and wellbeing.