Perth City Council Deputation

Delivered by David Goncalves (Tuesday 27th July 2021)

Good evening Deputy Lord Mayor and councillors. I am delighted to present this deputation on behalf of myself, David Gonclaves of East Perth and my co-chair Paul Hunt of West Perth. 

In October 2020 the City of Perth was embroiled in a cloud of controversy. Just nine months on, after a lot of community scepticism and disdain – we are proud to have made headway in delivering a plan which will hopefully see the City of Perth embracing diversity and inclusion at its very core.

I’m proud to quote the first openly elected LGBTIQ representative, Harvey Milk, who said that “Hope will never be silent” when he himself was involved in the local government politics of San Francisco.

I came to you with heartfelt outrage that as a resident of the City of Perth for now twenty years, that I witnessed the opposite of what I hoped to be. I wanted to believe that there could be a new era of elected representatives that could move on from the toxicity of the past – and instead I saw that toxicity targeting my own community.

All people have an equal right to live free from violence, discrimination and stigma. — And it’s with that basic premise that I and many others knew that hope couldn’t stay silent.

On the 30th of March. The City of Perth Council endorsed myself, David Gonclaves, and Paul Hunt, as chairs of the newly established LGBTIQA+ Advisory Group…  and it’ a two year role we felt obligated to oversee considering were at the pointy end right from the beginning.

As chairs, we were charged with ensuring the City’s advisory group could engage with the community so as to champion change both internally and externally – all in less that six months.

We knew it wouldn’t just be the contents of a plan that mattered but also the very processes behind them – processes that engage the community in a genuine way – in a way that the community feels is not only responsive but is indeed part of.

The LGBTIQA+ Advisory Group – consisting of 15 members – have worked to engage with the wider community and provide the kind links and relationships that the City needs to tap into. It’s a model of community partnership that should be expanded. 

Embracing these relationships and the goodwill within its own community has the potential to develop and advance all manner of ideas, plans and issues that touch the City of Perth.

The environment of the past perhaps left the City hesitant and even unknowing how to “deal or manage the community” – but with this new approach of embracing community outreach – no matter the uncertainty – can lead to real positive change with a far more firmer platform for the kind of legacy that lasts.

Maybe its my catholic schooling I still have to shake off – but I firmly believe that its possible to have faith – and to even have faith in the community – while still living with uncertainty.

It’s been the overwhelming response to the community representatives on the advisory group that people are skeptical that this may be a marketing, or even PR exercise – or even that the City would simply try too tightly control the process to make it meaningful. 

The one message as chair’s that we took on board was that this needed to be a community owned initiative rather than simply a city lead response – and it’s not been one without it’s challenges to get others to understand where we are coming from.

Now that this draft plan is out for further public consultation I hope that the City of Perth can witness the benefits of this kind of genuine engagement. Not everything has to be a tightly controlled checkbox exercise. With real, genuine and wide reaching engagement you can bring along people to create solutions that not may not even be visible and surely would never have had the kind of support without such efforts.

It was never an accident that forming an advisory group with fifteen people from such diverse fields would produce such a response – it’s one that no one should be scared of or nervous about. We are indeed a passionate community. With many hopes and dreams. But they are ones of diversity, ones of inclusion and ultimately one of equality  – ideals we are proud that the City of Perth will be representing and reflecting.

The framework and plan are truely living documents, with 34 key recommendations that embraces not only our goals but our hopes. It’s inevitable that it will be a foundation and if not first step towards far more that the City can achieve.

While not every recommendation has made it through, the Advisory Group are extremely proud of this document, and it’s one that we will continue to be at the forefront of both its refinement and it’s actual implementation.

As Chairs over the next two years, both Paul and I, will strive to ensure and deliver on that

If I could be as bold to just highlight one of our key recommendations, it would be the one with overwhelming community support and is in the process of further external development as we speak.

Throughout the consultation process, it was clear the LGBTQIA+ community has been calling for the creation of a physical presence that could be a focal point for people of diverse sexuality and genders to celebrate culture, centralise health services, forge new connections, and house important advocacy organisations.

Such a building or space would be called the Perth Pride Hub – and its natural – though not automatic – that this space would be within the boundaries of the City of Perth.

A Perth Pride Hub could reactivate parts of the city by using one of the many vacant buildings or land — all while meeting the needs as a basecamp for services, groups and organisations to collaborate. They could then share resources and further their work in supporting equality, diversity and inclusion across the our city and indeed the entire state of Western Australia.

It is important to note that just this month, Melbourne itself has now finalised plans to construct its own version, named the Victorian Pride Centre that revolves around many of the same core principles.

The chairs believe that with the right kind private, government and city support and continuing the partnerships fostered in our advisory group – a similar project could be successfully delivered as a lasting legacy to all of our efforts.

This is a very exciting recommendation, it would bring economic benefits and the potential to reactivate parts of the city that sorely need it — all while meeting an unmet community need and expectation that is missing from this state and city.

Such a concept would bring Pride to Perth all-year-round – and with that note I’m delighted to announced that a number of community members have already come to together to propose an exploratory committee for such project to further engage with stakeholders and work towards a viable business plan. Very early initial details are at:

To date in this plan, we have all but scratched the surface of initiatives the City of Perth could implement, but rest assured, we will strive for the very best for our city, and to guarantee that the City of Perth retains its place as the as the core and heart of the LGBTIQA+ community.

As chairs, I would like to acknowledge the work of the entire fifteen panel of the Advisory Group along with the CEO Michelle and staff Kylie and Sam – but in particular two particular standout staff members have stood out, Emma Launders and Lauren Brophy have committed themselves with faith and goodwill that has made this all possible.

And lastly to yourselves as councillors as democratically elected representatives. It might not often get said, but for me personally – regaining hope and faith in local council – even if it’s comes with a fraction of the kind of work burden that you know too well – has been one of the greatest rewards so far.

I can thoroughly recommend that this Council move to endorse the equity framework and indeed the LGBTIQA+ plan for further public consultation and look forward to the next phases for our community and the City.  — Thank you.