On the blog: Supporting our gender diverse community

Superintendent Cath Grassick

Superintendent Cath Grassick has been a police officer in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for more than 31 years; both in the National arena and ACT Policing. Superintendent Grassick has spent her career working in a variety of roles from Professional Standards Investigations to Human Resources, Learning and Development and Intelligence in the specialties of Counter Terrorism, Aviation, Community Policing and Organised Crime.

Over her career Superintendent Grassick has been directly involved in a number of projects for the AFP including the development of the first distance learning package launched in the mid-1990s  and the development and implementation of the Illicit and Pharmaceutical Drug Programs.

Superintendent Grassick has received recognition during her career including the National Police Service Medal, AFP Service Medal and Australia Day Medallion.

Superintendent Grassick is currently the Superintendent in Charge of ACT Policing’s North District encompassing City, Belconnen and Gungahlin Patrols.

All members of the community are important to ACT Policing but there are some communities that are considered vulnerable in regards to their ability to report crime or who experience higher levels of harassment including criminal behaviour. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community is one such community. The AFP, similar to the community it serves, also has a number of employees who identify as LGBTI. I am one of those employees and a member of the AFP’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) Network.

The GLLO Network commenced in 1996 to provide additional support for members of this community on the basis of recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission (1995) and the Australian and New Zealand Equal Employment Opportunity in Policing Conference in 1996.

The Network has been running for more than 20 years and its key objectives are to provide

  • support and advocacy for:
    • LGBTI members of the AFP (regardless of how they identify)
    • members of the AFP whose family, friends or colleagues identify with the LGBTI community
    • AFP Executive when advancing LGBTI inclusion in the workplace
    • LGBTI initiatives of partner agencies
  • a link between the LGBTI community and police to enhance the reporting of crime; and
  • a relevant and responsive investigative resource to support AFP operations.

Each year the GLLO Network actively participates in LGBTI pride events in most states, and undertakes a number of annual initiatives throughout the year. The larger annual initiatives include:

  • the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
  • the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOT); and
  • Wear It Purple (a youth led organisation that exists to support and empower LGBTI young people).

Any employee can be a member of the GLLO Network. We have employees who identify as LGBTI, employees with family, friends or colleagues who identify with the community or employees who simply want to support the internal and external LGBTI community.  

While all elements of the GLLO network are important, a major issue facing the community is family violence (FV). The LGBTI community is not immune from family violence. However, in part due to the historical distrust between the LGBTI community and police (arising somewhat from when homosexuality was considered a crime), FV incidents in this community are reported at a much lower rate than the general community.     

Family violence is an insidious crime involving assaults, intimidation, property damage and in the worse cases, homicide. In the LGBTI community, there are other forms of intimidation including the threat to out their sexuality, gender or intersex status to their family or colleagues; telling or threatening to tell about HIV status (or other illness); forcing them to act or look more female or male, or; applying pressure for them to have medical procedures just to name a few. In some cultural communities there is an even heightened risk as the existence of gender/sexual diversity may not be acknowledged within these cultures.  

Last year the AFP raised the rainbow flag for the first time outside ACT Police Stations. This was a symbolic gesture not only to show our support for IDAHOT Day but to send a message to the local community that it is safe to come to the police to report incidents. This gesture was a first for police services (along with Queensland Police) in the country. Despite this, we still have a long way to go to encourage the members of the community who are confronted with this crime to report to police.  

For me personally this issue extends beyond my job. I am a member of the local LGBTI community.  As well as myself, my family also includes members that identify as LGBTI. It is so important that in a world of intolerance, that we work together as a community to remove the risk of violence from all of our community members.