For many international students, Australia’s diverse culture is one of its greatest selling points, particularly for those belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Progressive and accepting, Australian culture is often perceived as a welcome change of pace for LGBTQIA+ international students, some of whom come from regions where homosexuality is considered a crime. In fact, moving to Australia is sometimes the first opportunity LGBTQIA+ international students get to live and love without restriction.
That said, LGBTQIA+ international students may require some additional support when settling into the country and throughout their studies. Fortunately, Australia offers a wide range of resources for LGBT international students that can make their study abroad experience much more fulfilling.
Are you wondering what this support for the LGBTQIA+ student community in Australia looks like? Well, you don’t need to wonder anymore. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most helpful resources for LGBTQIA+ international students that you can take advantage of while studying in Australia.
What is Australia like for the LGBTQIA+ community?
If you haven’t yet arrived in Australia, you may be curious about what your experience as an LGBTQIA+ international student will be like. While it’s difficult to generalise, there are a few important things to know.
While same-sex relationships have been widely accepted for many years in Australia, same-sex marriage wasn’t formally legalised until December 2017. The decision came after the majority of Australians voted “yes” in a nationwide survey gauging the public’s support for same-sex marriage.
That said, discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community was outlawed long ago. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 made it illegal to discriminate against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. These protections for LGBTQIA+ rights apply to anyone on Australian soil, including citizens, permanent residents and LGBTQIA+ international students.
Unfortunately, prejudice against the queer community still exists – even in Australia. It’s important for LGBTQIA+ international students to be mindful of the fact that, while Australia is extremely accepting of LGBTQIA+ rights as a nation, there are still specific issues that plague the LGBTQIA+ community to a greater degree than the general population. Some of these issues can include harassment, rejection from family and friends, alcohol and substance misuse, experiences of violence and experiences of prejudice or discrimination in the workplace and at school.
However, there are several support resources that can help LGBTQIA+ international students (and all other members of the LGBTQIA+ community) handle such challenges.
What support services are available at educational institutions?
The support systems available to LGBTQIA+ international students vary from institution to institution. That said, TAFE and university support for LGBTQIA+ students in Australia is available at nearly all education providers.
The Australian LGBTI Uni Guide is a terrific resource that enables you to compare the ways in which Australian universities demonstrate their support for the LGBTQIA+ student community in Australia. The site uses various metrics – such as policy, staff training, ally networks, data collection – to assess which universities provide such resources for LGBTQIA+ international students.
Many education providers also feature community and social groups specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community. Certain groups include both staff and students, while others are solely for students. These groups can help you establish a sense of belonging in your new student community. By getting involved with such groups, you’ll also familiarise yourself with LGBTQIA+ events in your area as well as other support resources for the queer community.
LGBTQIA+ events in Australia include:
- The Sydney Mardi Gras Festival
- Midsumma Festival in Melbourne
- SpringOUT in Canberra
- Feast Festival in Adelaide
- The Brisbane Pride Festival
- PrideFEST in Perth
- Queens Ball in Hobart
- Darwin Pride Festival
To discover the resources for LGBTQI international students offered by your institution, consult its website or get in touch with the administration.
Where can I find culturally specific support services?
Some LGBT international students face specific issues relating to their culture, as well as the beliefs and attitudes of their families and friends back home – and you may be one of them. If that’s the case, you need support services tailored to your unique circumstances. Maybe it’s finding a queer-centric organisation that is sensitive to your cultural needs. Maybe it’s finding a platform to engage with other LGBT international students who share similar backgrounds.
Whatever the case, there are entities in Australia designed to help you. To get started, check out ReachOut.com’s list of culturally diverse LGBTQIA+ support services available in each state and territory.
What general support services are available?
In Australia, there are many resources and support services that LGBT international students can take advantage of throughout their studies. Some of these resources include:
- Rainbow Network, which features a directory of support services and groups for LGBTQIA+ youth
- Queerspace & Queerspace Youth
If you’re in need of urgent help or support, please call one of the following organisations as soon as possible: