Organisations are increasingly working to ensure that their services and support systems are inclusive of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) communities. Resources, training and standards are available to support LGBTIQ-inclusive practice.

This article was authored by Lirata Associates Anne Leonard and Pam Kennedy, who deliver inclusive practice training on behalf of GLHV. Lirata supports GLHV's work to ensure that members of the LGBTIQ community are able to access high quality services that meet their needs. The article was first published in 2016 and was updated in May 2018.


The importance of inclusive practice

Organisations in the health and community services sector are always on the lookout for ways to tune into the diverse needs of their communities. They understand the importance of ensuring a welcome for everyone who walks in the door. Not only does this accord with human rights principles, it also helps to ensure that services are accessible to all those who need them. In a funding environment that increasingly favours consumer choice, being inclusive also makes good business sense.

Diversity has many dimensions. Inclusive service delivery considers gender, sexual orientation, cultural and linguistic background, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background, age, faith, ability and more. While service providers have been developing strategies over a number of decades to respond to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, the needs of LGBTIQ individuals have historically had less focus.

Meeting the needs of LGBTIQ consumers

Societal attitudes towards LGBTIQ people are changing, however many still experience discrimination and even abuse within the wider community. It is not surprising that they may be wary when approaching services or individual practitioners. Ill-informed approaches to practice can compound people’s experience of discrimination and marginalisation, and lead to poor health and wellbeing outcomes. Displaying a rainbow sticker is not enough; LGBTIQ consumers increasingly want assurances that services understand and will respond to their needs in an inclusive and professional manner.1

Being inclusive and welcoming of LGBTIQ people doesn't mean that people always need to, or have to, disclose as LGBTIQ; their sexuality or gender identity might not be relevant to why they are seeking a service. However, an inclusive approach will mean that they can let service providers know if and when they choose to.

Strengthening LGBTIQ-inclusive services

Many organisations are now focusing on how to build their competence in providing LGBTIQ-inclusive services, to ensure that LGBTIQ consumers feel valued and included. Organisations also want to ensure that their workplace systems are inclusive of LGBTIQ staff and volunteers. Some great resources are available to assist organisations in this work.

Training and resources

GLHV provides staff training and development in LGBTIQ-inclusive practice. The GLHV website has a large range of resources, including research articles, training options, videos, legislative updates, news and information.

As well as training in LGBTIQ-inclusive practice, GLHV conducts the HOW2 program, a coaching and mentoring program that supports organisations as they become more LGBTIQ-inclusive, and assists organisations to be Rainbow Tick accreditation-ready.


The Rainbow Tick is a set of six Australian standards which provide a benchmark for LGBTI-inclusive organisations. The Rainbow Tick was developed by GLHV in consultation with Quality Innovation Performance (QIP), the organisation which currently accredits against the standards.

Rainbow Tick accreditation provides assurance – a visible sign – to LGBTIQ consumers and staff that an organisation will be responsive to their needs. The Rainbow Tick Accreditation Program supports organisations to understand and implement LGBTIQ-inclusive service delivery and provides national recognition for agencies that meet the Rainbow Tick Standards.

The six standards are listed below, along with selected examples of good practice.

Rainbow Tick standards and good practice examples


Good practice examples

1. Organisational capability

  • Organisational commitment and leadership for LGBTI-inclusive practice
  • Employment policies acknowledge LGBTI staff, and encourage their presence on governance bodies
  • The use of feedback from consumer consultation in forward planning

2. Workforce development

  • Conducting a survey to determine staff knowledge and confidence regarding LGBTI-inclusive practice
  • Training in LGBTI awareness for all staff
  • Partnerships with local LGBTI organisations and networks

3. Consumer participation

  • Having an LGBTI community advisory group
  • Including LGBTI content or questions in consumer feedback surveys or forms

4. A welcoming and accessible organisation

  • Waiting room/reception area are LGBTI inclusive
  • Language and imagery on organisation's website are LGBTI-inclusive

5. Disclosure and documentation

  • A disclosure and documentation policy or guideline that outlines confidentiality processes
  • Forms and templates which are LGBTI-inclusive

6. Culturally safe and acceptable services

  • An understanding of cultural safety for LGBTI people accessing services
  • Identifying and managing risks to LGBTI consumers and communities

The Rainbow Tick Standards are accompanied by several tools developed by GLHV to assist organisations to assess and improve LGBTIQ-inclusive practice. These include:

  • An audit tool which is a useful starting point for organisations in assessing their current level of LGBTIQ-inclusivity against the six standards.
  • A risk management framework to assist organisations to identify and manage risks to LGBTIQ consumers and staff and ensure that LGBTIQ-inclusive risk management is strengthened in service system design and review processes.

Further information

For further information about LGBTIQ training and professional development, or to participate in the HOW2 coaching and mentoring program, please contact GLHV: phone 03 9479 8760 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For further information about Rainbow Tick accreditation, please contact the Community Operations Team at QIP: phone 1300 820 152 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


1. Catherine Barrett, Lottie Turner and Liam Leonard (2013) Beyond a rainbow sticker: A report on How2 create a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (GLBTI) inclusive service. Melbourne: GLHV. Page 1.


Assistance to develop inclusive services

Lirata Consulting assists organisations to develop policies, practice and systems that respond well to diversity. As part of this we provide targeted consultancy that works with staff and management to implement LGBTIQ-inclusive approaches. We also support organisations to prepare for external accreditation, including accreditation against the Rainbow Tick standards.

For further information or assistance, please contact Celia Clapp at Lirata Consulting.

Mobile: +61 (0)403 043 390
Landline: +61 (0)3 9457 2547
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Responding to diversity: Focus on the LGBTIQ community (PDF 236 KB)

External resources