The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria (YACVic) has welcomed the Victorian Government’s appointment of Rowena Allen as Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner.

“As Victoria’s youth peak body, YACVic welcomes this government’s commitment to eliminating inequality and discrimination against Victorians who are same-sex attracted or sex/gender diverse,” said YACVic CEO Georgie Ferrari. “Rowena Allen is a respected and dedicated advocate for LGBTI young people, as well as young people in rural and regional Victoria. Her appointment as Commissioner is a very positive step.”

The first state budget of the Andrews Government saw a commitment of $3.2 million over four years to establish a dedicated Equality portfolio within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. This will include the creation of a Commissioner to promote the equality of LGBTI people in Victoria’s community and champion inclusive practices across government.

“It is distressing to see how many young people continue to suffer harassment and abuse on the grounds of their sexuality or gender identity,” Ms Ferrari commented. “A recent study of over 3,000 young LGBTI Australians found that 61% had been verbally abused, 18% reported physical violence, and 69% had experienced other forms of discrimination. It is vital that governments take the lead to promote social cohesion, equality and respect.”

Rowena Allen, a former Chairperson of YACVic, has a long history of advocating for young people.  I have no doubt in her role as the Commissioner she will continue to keep young people’s issues at the fore, Ms Ferrari said.

The Commissioner’s appointment occurs alongside several other key commitments from the Victorian Government to improve the wellbeing of LGBTI young Victorians. These include the extension of the Safe Schools Coalition to reach all state secondary schools, and $5.9 million over four years for programs to support the mental health and wellbeing of same-sex attracted and sex/gender diverse young people. YACVic advocated for both these initiatives, and was delighted to see this vital work supported.

For further comment: Georgie Ferrari, CEO Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, 03 9267 3711 or 0411 484 428