Rainbow Families has launched a report into discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ parented families when access Australian Government Services. This report is a follow-up to the 2017 Rainbow Families NSW report Love makes a family: A report into discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+-parented families when accessing state government services.
This report looks at the experiences of members of our community when accessing services provided through the Australian Government. What we found is that families still face exclusion and discrimination in the most basic day-to-day interactions with government – from forms that don’t reflect the makeup of our families, to schools who can exclude our children because of who their parents are or have the right to fire us because of who we love and who we are.
Two things are clear from this report: the power of language to make LGBTIQ+ parented families feel included or excluded; and that family diversity and inclusivity training would go a long way to remove barriers for our community.
In 2017, our community campaigned for marriage equality. While that battle was won, what this report reveals is that there is still a long way to go before members of our community experience full equality when accessing government services.
“Accessing government services as a rainbow family is often difficult. Our families are more vulnerable. It’s not simply the forms, which are often wrong and need amending, but dealing with government employees who need to interpret law and policy. Being told, as I was, that the requirements for my partner and I to register our child’s birth were different because we were same-sex parents was a deeply upsetting experience.”
- Lesbian mum
“Inclusion is key. Too often, it’s the incidental things that take me by surprise. There needs to be an overhaul of all paperwork and online forms to use neutral terms. Staff need to be trained to use inclusive terms and not make assumptions. For example, using the term ‘partner’ until the customer discloses otherwise.”
- Lesbian mum
The first Love Makes A Family report explored the experiences of our families accessing NSW Government services. Since its launch, Rainbow Families NSW have made great progress on a number of the issues raised in that report. The original report provided an evidence-based framework for our advocacy, and we wanted to replicate that at a Federal level. We wanted to understand if families were experiencing similar concerns with Federal Government agencies.
Anecdotally, parents were telling us about difficulties they’d had with Centrelink and Medicare, so we surveyed them about those experiences and put together this report to advocate on behalf of our community. While the report shows that our families still experience exclusion at every Government level, it also shows that things have improved for LGBTIQ families.
This report is a call to action. we look forward to working with the government to make things better for all families.