A North Queensland council has become the first in the state to introduce an LGBTIQ portfolio to ensure the community is heard by government.
Palm Island is located 65 kilometres north-west of Townsville, off Queensland’s east coast. The main island is one of a group governed by Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council.
And newly-elected deputy mayor Andrew Castors says he’s started the LGBTIQ portfolio to regularly consult those community members for the first time.
“For years on Palm here we’ve always had the women’s shelter and we’ve also had the men’s group,” he told ABC News.
“There was nothing for the LGBT community on the island.”
He acknowledged LGBTIQ people faced unique challenges the local government needs to be aware of.
“Their issues are different to the straight community,” he said.
“So I thought that we needed a voice on council as well. We wanted our own safe haven for all people like us on the island.”
Cr Castors meets with LGBTIQ residents on a regular basis to discuss matters concerning the queer community.
He said he hopes more local councils do the same.
“I would like to see, especially the Aboriginal communities, really take it on board,” he said.
“We do have a lot of sistagirls in the other Aboriginal communities. Please just accept them for who they are.”
New generation of Sistagirls and Brotherboys on Palm Island
Sistagirl and Brotherboy are terms used for gender diverse people in some Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities.
Cr Castors educates younger people about the long history of gender diverse First Nations people and how they paved the way for new generations.
Among them is 21-year-old trans woman Amy Lee Oui, who took part in a recent catwalk fashion show held on the island.
Amy came out as trans at age 12, and said her close family ultimately embraced her.
“You got some that don’t accept, you got some that do,” she told ABC News.
“But it’s not anyone’s problem. It’s my business.
“They just got to accept me for what I am, what I’m good at and what I’m best at.”
Amy says she wants to pursue a future in fashion modelling.
Deputy Mayor Cr Castors said he knew some people who were moving to Palm Island because of its accepting atmosphere.
“We’re seeing members from the LGBT community from the mainland coming to Palm Island,” he said.
“Some of them have now applied for housing because they feel more accepted here than they do on the mainland with their own families.”
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