A gay Queensland police officer who has worked tirelessly on promoting LGBTI inclusion in the Queensland Police Service has been nominated for an award.
Mick Gardiner (pictured, left) has served in the Queensland Police Service (QPS) for 26 years and was this month announced as a finalist in the Queensland Police Credit Union (QPCU) Everyday Heroes Awards for his work coordinating the QPS’ new LGBTI support service.
After just months of operation the support service has already advised the QPS on multiple diversity policies, including the production of the QPS Diverse Gender Guide, and got the service involved in the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHOT) with the historic raising of a rainbow flag outside police headquarters in Brisbane.
“We went in two directions. One direction is the support network for officers, and the other is providing ideas and strategies to the QPS to move forward to an environment of inclusiveness and acceptance within the service itself,” Mick explained.
“We’ve only existed for eight months but look at the list of stuff that we’ve managed to achieve. We’ve had massive support both internally within the QPS and externally in the wider community, including the LGBTI community.
“It’s just a fantastic indication that hopefully we’re doing the right thing in the right way.”
Superintendent David Tucker of Community Contact Command supported Gardiner’s nomination for the award and expressed gratitude for the work he’s done.
“He’s provided significant leadership to the members of the network, been innovative in thinking and put in significant time off duty supporting this program,” he said.
“The support network has always been about a cultural change led by the rank and file within the QPS. Mick has ensured that it was led by the junior staff and his enthusiasm has been contagious.”
Gardiner said the LGBTI support network was especially important for QPS officers and staff in regional areas.
“I came out very late in life, I was already a police officer and I didn’t really deal with it very well,” he said.
“But I had two things going for me. I had an amazing wife who stood by me through that process and I had some openly gay police officers who were friends, who helped me through it as well.
“I was very lucky. I had that mechanism available to me but what if there was LGBTI officers out there who didn’t have that mechanism available to them, especially police officers in regional Queensland?
“Maybe there’s people out there struggling and don’t know any LGBTI police officers they can talk to. I thought it was really important to try and provide that support network throughout the state to anyone who might need it.”
And the Queensland Police Service’s LGBTI support service is blazing a trail not just around the state, but also within other public service organisations around the country that Gardiner and his colleagues have been in touch with.
“We’re working hand-in-hand with representatives from Queensland Fire and Rescue and Victoria Police, to help them with some of the same inclusion strategies,” he said.
The Queensland Police Credit Union (QPCU) Everyday Heroes Awards recognise and celebrate the “unsung heroes” in the state’s entire public service, and winners will be announced at an Awards lunch on Friday, June 10.