Ben Bjarnesen’s DV charity to march in Mardi Gras Parade

Ben Bjarnesen (right) wearing a LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation shirt against a Mardi Gras backdrop
Composite image. Images: Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Instagram

The LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation will bring an important message to Sydney’s Mardi Gras Parade with their first float on Saturday night.

Queensland campaigner Ben Bjarnesen (above right), founded the charity in 2020. Each year on May 28, the charity recognises LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day.

Ben, a domestic violence survivor himself, said the Foundation is joining the Parade following the “shocking and unimaginable” tragedy of the murders of Sydney gay couple Jesse Baird and Luke Davies last week.

“Our thoughts are with Jesse and Luke’s family, friends and colleagues,” Ben said.

“This is a domestic violence crime. We must all acknowledge that this issue occurs at a disproportionately higher rate in LGBTQ+ communities.”

Ben said the Foundation comprises passionate volunteers desperate to shine a light on the issue that doesn’t discriminate and has “remained hidden in our communities for far too long.”

“Sadly, LGBTQ+ people are less likely to identify domestic or family violence in their relationships, less likely to report it to the police or seek support from services, and are far less likely to find support services that meet their specific needs,” he said.

“We are losing too many lives and too many others are suffering in silence.

“I hope that any LGBTQ+ person watching the parade who’s experiencing violence in a personal or family relationship sees us and knows that they are not alone.

“They need to know that they are seen, believed and there are people and organisations who can support them.”

LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation’s first Mardi Gras float

Last week, Mardi Gras partner MinterEllison donated their parade spot to the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation.

Ben will march with volunteers alongside Hugh Sheridan, journalist Steve Pennells and the first federal DFSV Commissioner, Micaela Cronin.

“Our float will have participants who are victim-survivors, allies and advocates, friends and families,” Ben explained.

“Many will wear purple armbands in honour of those they’ve lost and demonstrate support for family, friends and loved ones.

“We’ll be holding torches to ‘shine a light’ as we honour and remember those who’ve lost their lives to this abuse and harm and as a symbol and beacon of hope for people experiencing domestic and family violence.”

Last year, Ben Bjarnesen left the Queensland Police Service after 15 years. The high-profile, well-known gay police officer was a coordinator of the QPS’ LGBTIQ+ Liaison Officer program.

Ben now works with the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation to provide education, information and resources to the community.

You can find out more at the Foundation’s website.

“We want to see a future where everyone, regardless of their gender or sexuality, has access to the right safe, inclusive and equal domestic and family violence support at the right time,” Ben said.

“Ultimately, we want to see an end to family, domestic and sexual violence in our communities.”

1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. Chat online via their website, or text 0458 737 732.

Find out more:

Qantas honours crew member Luke Davies on Mardi Gras float

Ben Bjarnesen among Qld’s Australian of the Year nominees

Survivor shares her story on LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day

Experiencing domestic violence? Please, pick up the phone

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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