*As published in the Ballarat Miner 05/12/'19 - By Edwina Williams

CAFS has received a Rainbow Tick accreditation for being a safe and welcoming organisation for LGBTQI+ people.

The Rainbow Tick is a benchmark for inclusive practice in health and human services, given to organisations demonstrating their commitment and ability to deliver LGBTQI+ inclusive services.

CEO Wendy Sturgess said the team is very proud to have received the world-first accreditation, only available in Victoria. It’s “more than a symbol” and rather a set of criteria Cafs will work by to provide services over all program areas.

“It’s an acknowledgement that our organisation has completed training and gone through a rigorous accreditation process,” she said.

“It’s an intensive…costly exercise, but we think it’s really important because we need to demonstrate to our own staff, to clients that come to Cafs to receive services, to the community and our volunteers that we’re an organisation that genuinely values cultural diversity.

“We genuinely want to make people who are LGBTQI+ feel safe, and that’s important because we know people who identify on the rainbow are more likely to have discrimination, higher rates of mental health issues and suicide,” Ms Sturgess said.

The Cafs board is currently receiving LGBTQI+ training so that the whole organisation understands what it means to be Rainbow Tick accredited.

“It’s about what we need to do in our language, in our behaviour, how we collect information and how we’re respectful in collecting information relating to gender. We’re doing our best to be sensitive and offer safety for people who identify,” Ms Sturgess said.

This week, Cafs also celebrated Reconciliation Australia’s endorsement of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Plan that demonstrates the organisation can and will sensitively work with people who identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders.

“It’s very important for our workforce to understand the impact of colonisation and dispossession of generations of First Nations people, particularly because Cafs used to run an orphanage and a children’s home,” Ms Sturgess said.

“We didn’t do the taking, but we did receive children as part of the Stolen Generation. We want people to know that we’re not hiding from our past, we’re sorry that’s happened, and we will not be doing that again.”