Queensland’s Ben Bjarnesen launches LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day


queensland police officer Ben Bjarnesen lgbti liaison officer domestic and family violence awareness campaign
Image: Amsnel Gorgonio

May 28 will be Australia’s inaugural LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day, a new initiative to address high rates of unreported domestic violence within LGBTIQ relationships.

Recent studies show up to 62 per cent of lesbian, gay, transgender and queer Australians have experienced some form of domestic abuse within their relationships. However, as few as six per cent of cases are reported to police.

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Ben Bjarnesen, a Queensland police officer and a survivor of domestic violence, has founded the LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day to raise awareness and remove stigma around the issue.

Bjarnesen, who is a proud LGBTI Liaison Officer and also a board member of DVConnect, shared his story with QNews.com.au last year. He’s committed to raising awareness of domestic and family violence and improving services for LGBTI people affected.

“It’s so important that people from LGBTI communities know that help is available for them,” Bjarnesen said.

“They don’t have to live with abuse and everyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity, deserves to live a life free from violence and abuse.”

Australia recognises the month of May as Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month each year.

The theme of the inaugural LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day on May 28 is #ImHereForYou. Bjarnesen is encouraging community members and allies to share personal messages using the hashtag.

“On May 28, tell your friends, family and LGBTI communities that you’re here for them and help raise awareness, remember the victims who’ve lost their lives, and support those in abusive relationships and those that have survived.”

To find out more ways to get involved, visit the website and follow the Facebook page.

Queensland community groups get behind the new initiative

Queensland Council for LGBTI Health has also vowed to “visibly and vocally” support the campaign.

“Awareness of the experiences of domestic and family violence that occur in LGBTI communities and for Sistergirls and Brotherboys across Queensland is essential,” CEO Rebecca Reynolds said.

“It does not take one form, and the more we all know about these experiences, the better and safer all of our communities will be.

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“We all have a responsibility to create those spaces where people will feel safe, seen and heard.

“That will encourage them to share their experiences and seek help. We take that responsibility seriously.”​

DVConnect CEO Beck O’Connor is also backing the LGBTI Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

“We are committed to listening to the voices of those with lived experience,” O’Connor said.

“We see [this day] as an incredible opportunity to continue learning how to support, empower and actively reduce barriers to safety.”

If you or someone you know is at risk of family and domestic violence:

In an emergency call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the police.

Support for Queensland women is available from the DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811.

Support for Queensland men is available on the DVConnect Mensline on 1800 600 636.

Call Diverse Voices on 1800 184 527 3pm – midnight. Diverse Voices is a peer-to-peer phone and internet counselling service focused on the diverse voices that make up our community.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.