Outrage as prison in Victoria nominated for transgender inclusion award


globe community awards ravenhall correctional centre transgender inclusion award
Images: GLOBE Melbourne, GEO Group

Victorian LGBTIQ business organisation GLOBE has caused outrage after nominating the state’s Ravenhall prison for a transgender inclusion honour at their next awards ceremony.

The GLOBE Community Awards celebrate achievement within the local LGBTIQ community, with awards given each year to both businesses and individuals.

Among the awards is one “awarded to businesses who champion equity for sexually diverse and gender diverse (transgender, gender diverse, non-binary) people in the workplace.”

Ravenhall Correctional Centre, a private prison in Victoria and the largest in Australia, is among the nominees GLOBE announced this week.

GLOBE explained Ravenhall “provides gender-diverse staff with a safe space to grow, giving them encouragement and help on their journey to becoming their true selves” through training, workplace awareness campaigns and development plans.

But the award nomination has caused outrage. Numerous LGBTIQ and human rights advocates have signed an open letter blasting the move.

“In Victoria many trans and gender diverse people are currently incarcerated in gender-segregated prisons that do not accord with their gender,” the letter reads.

“It is hard to think of a more violent example of the dangerous imposition of the gender binary than prisons.

“Trans people experience direct and ongoing harm on the basis of their transgender status while incarcerated.

“The obvious risks of this practice are severe for trans women incarcerated in men’s prisons, and trans women of colour in particular.”

The letter goes on, “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are incarcerated in prisons like Ravenhall at staggeringly disproportionate rates in Australia.

“It is our national shame.

“We urge GLOBE to urgently reconsider the decision to list Ravenhall Correctional Centre for a transgender inclusion award.”

Aboriginal man dies in custody in Ravenhall Correctional Centre

Ravenhall Correctional Centre opened in 2017. A 2019 review identified staff safety issues and “compromised” care of prisoners with acute mental illness.

In April this year, an Aboriginal man also died in custody at the prison.

Last year, ABC News reported that nationally, experts estimate 400 trans and gender diverse inmates are incarcerated.

However trans prisoners are often assessed and housed inappropriately, with some trans women placed in men’s prisons. Policies vary from state to state.

As a result, trans prisoners are more likely to suffer physical and sexual assaults and verbally harassment from other inmates or staff.

GLOBE addresses backlash over prison award nomination

Addressing the backlash, a GLOBE spokesperson said the organisation was aware of the concerns over the nomination.

“We’ve read the feedback shared with us by members of our community. [We’re] seeking advice from our stakeholders, advisors and community members,” a spokesperson said.

“We assure you that GLOBE Victoria is sensitive to the broader issues surrounding our trans and gender diverse community.

“We absolutely agree that the systemic racism and discrimination that our transgender community, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities and other marginalised communities have had to face, particularly within the correctional system, is completely unacceptable.

“And we always welcome any feedback as an opportunity to grow, learn and improve so that we can continue to best serve our Victorian LGBTIQ communities.

“We’re also exploring opportunities to bring together concerned members of the community to share feedback and raise concerns directly.”

GLOBE will announce the winners of the Community Awards at their next ceremony in February next year.

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.

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