Balancing the Act: ADCQ newsletter -

Community engagement

Cohesive community

The Commission works with communities to increase social inclusion, reduce marginalisation, and achieve our vision of a fair and inclusive Queensland.

Depiction of a neigbourhood showing houses, flats, and children cycling, with the text: Community cohesion is based on belonging, positive interactions, and equality.The concept of community cohesion has gained popularity with government policy-makers as a result of violent and divisive world events. Closer to home, growing hostility to multiculturalism and immigration, as well as higher levels of racial and cultural intolerance, have been observed in parts of Queensland. Creating connected and cohesive communities is seen as a means to counter social tensions and anti-social behaviour.

A cohesive society is one in which all groups have a sense of belonging, participation, inclusion, recognition, and legitimacy.

This requires strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds tackling inequalities and developing a positive climate of opinion to support diversity. To achieve these ends, the Commission recently partnered with the Australian Human Rights Commission to deliver forums in regional Queensland on Belonging .

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Belonging in our community

The 2011 Census showed that Queensland is an increasingly multicultural society, and is home to people who speak more than 220 languages, hold more than 100 religious beliefs, and come from more than 220 countries.

Proactive steps needed

Over the past two years, the Commission has received disturbing information about racist incidents, and has monitored reports about demonstrations against proposed building of mosques with concern. In the light of these events, the Commission decided that we needed to take proactive steps to begin conversations between groups that differ over ideas about faith, safety, inclusion, and what it means to be Australian.

Between June and October this year the Commission, in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission, regional councils, and community organisations, conducted Community Conversations on Belonging in the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, and Townsville using the World Café process.

We used the Conversations as a way to create a safe place for people to have difficult conversations on how we can build safe and harmonious communities.

At each Conversation, we asked participants to consider the question: How can we share the risk and responsibility to build a safe and inclusive local community?

Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, and Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Kevin Cocks AM, participated in all Conversations and fielded questions from participants.

Focus on local issues

The direction of each Conversation varied with local issues and concerns.

In the Sunshine Coast Conversation, the issues related to the diverse and growing multicultural population and neighbourhood connectedness.

The Hervey Bay Conversation identified barriers to belonging for groups who are isolated and marginalised.

In Townsville, the pressing need was to involve youth and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to meaningfully cater for their needs so that they feel valued and part of their community.

The success of the Conversations was that people from diverse backgrounds and with different perspectives came together to listen, share experiences, build trust, and identify ideas and actions that they as a community can take to make their communities safer and more cohesive.

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Trans @ School

If you’re a single-sex school, what do you do when one of your students transitions and starts to live as the opposite sex?

A collection of rainbow coloured pencils to represent gender diversity in a school setting, with the text Trans and gender diverse @ schoolHow do you protect trans children and young people from bullying and harassment by students, staff, and even the parents of other students?

What about uniforms? Toilets? Where they sleep at camp? Getting name and gender right on class lists, report cards, certificates, school photos?

These and many other questions have been discussed by parents, teachers, principals, community services reps, and the young people themselves, at the Trans @ School forums.

The LGBTI Legal Service, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, and Legal Aid Queensland are partnering on the Trans @ School project.

The project is looking to understand important issues affecting trans children and young people in Queensland schools, and how schools can best support them.

Using the World Café process to facilitate collaborative dialogue, more than 80 participants have considered three important questions:

  1. What are the issues for trans and gender-diverse children and young people in schools?
  2. What good things are happening in schools to support trans and gender diverse children and young people?
  3. What would promote a supportive and inclusive education system for trans and gender diverse children and young people?

People have enjoyed the open, safe, inclusive, and respectful environment; the wide-ranging conversation about ideas, experiences, practices, and policies; and above all, the chance to meet and share with other people who are vitally interested in the wellbeing of gender diverse young people in schools.

Their input is being used to develop resources, including YouTube videos, aimed at educating schools, students, and other stakeholders about the practical issues affecting trans and gender diverse-students.

One participant’s final comment: Please share this work with other organisations and groups. We will all be stronger through sharing.

If you would like to be involved in the Trans @ School project, please contact Heather Corkhill at the Commission. Phone: 3021 9115, or Email:

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Inclusive sport and beach days

Creating inclusive activities for all ages and abilities was the aim of organisers of events in Disability Action Week. Inclusive Games Days were held in Townsville and Cairns, and the biggest Beach Day Out ever was held at Emu Park on the Capricorn Coast.

The Commission’s Townsville and Cairns offices partnered with other agencies to deliver the Inclusive Games Days, and the Rockhampton office is a long-term supporter of Beach Day Out.

Two young people on an indoor basketball court cheering.

The inaugural Inclusive Games Day in Townsville was held this year at the Townsville Stadium. As well as creating a fun event and raising awareness, the organisers looked beyond the week, and included workshops for clubs on inclusive sport, so that participants can play all year round.

The Cairns Inclusive Games Day at Fogarty Park on the Esplanade provided the opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to engage in sports, games, and social activities, including sailing boats from Sailability — Sailing for Everyone.

A person in an electric wheelchair towing a small sailing boat. Each year Beach Day Out — no-one misses out — at Emu Park provides accessible infrastructure, including accessible transport to the venue, so that people of all abilities can enjoy a day at the beach. The aim of the event is to assist people with disability to access community life equitably, and this year over 4,000 people attended the event.

A young man singing with a microphone.

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