May 8, 2024 | Local News

Gympie police welcome new LGBTIQ+ liaison officer

Vivienne Wynter

The Queensland Police Service’s new LGBTIQ+ liaison officer in Gympie, (Plain Clothes) Senior Constable Carmen Sternberg, knows only too well the challenges community members in regional areas can face.

‘I grew up in Kingaroy which is a small country town.

‘I got ridiculed when I came out.

‘It was not as acceptable back then and I know how difficult it can be.’

Now living in Gympie, Senior Constable Sternberg says she’s keen to get to know the LGBTIQ+ community in the Gympie division.

Gympie culture changing

Senior Constable Sternberg says there has been a big influx of people to Gympie which is changing the culture.

‘There’s a lot more diversity in this area now’, Senior Constable Sternberg said.

‘However, if you are an LGBTIQ+ person in Gympie and you are being ridiculed, bullied or assaulted that’s not right.’

‘I know how daunting it is for people to speak to police.

‘The community need to know the QPS will take their complaints seriously.’

Senior Constable Sternberg (who was in the Australian Defence Force before joining the QPS) said she believed the QPS was becoming more diverse and inclusive.

‘The police service in Gympie isn’t so old school these days.

‘Now I’m in this role, there is someone at the Gympie station people from the LGBTIQ+ community can ask for.’

IMAGE: Supplied by Unsplash

Community outreach

Senior Constable Sternberg said community outreach was also part of her role.

‘I can go to schools and show my face to kids who might be struggling and hiding their actual life.’

‘I am happy to speak to schools and principals about issues around diversity and inclusion and speak to students about your actions having consequences.

‘You can’t go around saying stuff to people to hurt their feelings and potentially injure their mental health.’

On its official website, the QPS acknowledges people from LGBTIQ+ communities experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in everyday life.

The QPS LGBTIQ+ Liaison Program was established in 1997 to support delivery of a professional, non-discriminatory, accessible policing service to LGBTIQ+ communities.

LBBTIQ+ liaision officers throughout QLD

There are now over 150 LGBTIQ+ liaison officers  working in police stations throughout Queensland.

Liaison officers receive specific LGBTIQ+ training and are sensitive to the issues each community faces.

They can support members of the community by providing discreet, non-judgemental advice, assistance or referral for all police-related matters.

Senior Constable Sternberg says silence around LGBTIQ+ abuse is not the answer.

‘I want to open up the doors so people feel comfortable coming to the police.

‘It’s like DV where for so many years people kept quiet about it.

‘I want to say to the community they can email me if they have a complaint or a concern and I will make sure it gets to the right people.’

How to complain to police

Some forms of harassment, abuse or inciting hatred of members of the LGBTIQ+ community are unlawful under the Queensland Criminal Code (report to police) and the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act (complain to police or the Human Rights Commission).

If any member of the community is at immediate risk they should call 000.

Members of the LGBTIQ+ community can also report crimes against them in the following ways:

  1. In person at a police station. LGBTIQ+ people can request to go to a private room to make their report or complaint to a report be referred to their local LGBTIQ+ officer who will provide a pathway and support through the police officer.
  2. By phone. Call Police Link 131 444. LGBTIQ+ people can ask to speak to their local LGBTIQ+ liaison) or request their QPS system.
  3. Call Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000 and give enough detail about the Who What Where When and How of the alleged offence so police have enough information to investigate.

To contact the QPS LGBITQ+ Gympie liaison officer, email Senior Constable Sternberg at:

LGBTIProgram.WideBayBurnett@police.qld.gov.au

IMAGE: From the LGBTIQ+ page from the QPS website

 

IMAGE: Top of story is Plain Clothes Senior Constable Carmen Sternberg. Supplied by QPS.

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