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Salvos celebrate inclusion on IDAHOBIT Day

Celebrating inclusion on IDAHOBIT Day. (From left): Nicole Telfer, LGBTQIA+ Specialist, Social Mission and Community Engagement; Captain Brad McIver, Head of Social Mission, and Ayla-Mai Cook, Human Resources Advisor with the HR Team.

Salvation Army teams and services in different locations commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), on 17 May to celebrate sexual and gender diversity.

At the Melbourne headquarters of The Salvation Army Australia, around 60 people attended the celebration morning tea. Staff members reflected on the meaning of the day and how it ties in with The Salvation Army’s inclusion statement.

Major Jenny Begent prayed specifically for the day, acknowledging that all have the right to live with dignity and without persecution or discrimination. 

Around Victoria, staff at the Salvos youth supported-accommodation facility in Shepparton hosted an afternoon tea with the young people at the site and participated with other local services in a community event. The Frankston team joined in festivities at the site they share with other external youth services from the Mornington Peninsula. Events also took place at the Sunshine Youth Hub and the Upton Road crisis accommodation service. Others, including a group from the Merri-Bek Salvos, attended community events.

“IDAHOBIT Day serves as a pivotal opportunity for The Salvation Army Youth Services to reaffirm our commitment to inclusivity and support for individuals of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions,” said James Aloni, State Manager for Youth Services, Victoria. “It's a day where we reflect on our ongoing efforts to create safe spaces and commit to furthering our support, ensuring that all young people feel affirmed and empowered within our communities.”


Captain Brad McIver, head of Social Mission for The Salvation Army Australia, reflected on growing up in the 1970s and the “whitewashed” view of the world he had at the time.

Inclusion was the focus of the THQ morning tea.

“I really am deeply grateful for the people of all abilities, from the LGBTQIA+ communities and from culturally diverse backgrounds who have been and are a part of my life – those who have spoken truth into my confusion and who have acted with grace as I have tried to grow and learn.

“As I reflect on this year’s IDAHOBIT Day and consider this year's theme of ‘No one left behind’, I am reminded that, because of the way that we have as a community, as a society and I as an individual have responded to people from the LGBTQIA+ community in the past … it's so important that we are proactive in embracing, including and championing people of diverse backgrounds.

“Just as we have prioritised our work with Indigenous Australians … just as we have prioritised our embracing of people of all abilities and those from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, so should we prioritise our engagement, our support, our allegiance and our inclusion of people from the LGBTQIA+ community.


“We are committed to being an organisation that is inclusive, and which celebrates, embrace and lifts up diversity in all its forms in the days to come.”


Everyone included

 Salvation Army team leaders also commented on the day.


“We held a morning tea on IDAHOBIT Day to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ young people and continue the conversation around what IDAHOBIT stands for,,” said Kass, Youth Hub Coordinator at Youth Services West, Melbourne. “IDAHOBIT Day this year was a celebration of all the wonderful young people we support, from all walks of life, and a promotion of the Sunshine Youth Hub as a safe space for all, regardless of who they are and who they love.”


Captain Belinda Cassie, Ministry and Support Coordinator for Youth Services (Vic.) commented on the IDAHOBIT Day theme, ‘No one left behind: equality, freedom and justice for all’.


“As a person of faith, that is something I can 100 per cent get behind,” she said. “Jesus left us with the exhortation that we are to love God and to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. There was no caveat added, so that mandate includes everyone from the LGBTQIA+ community too.


“One facet of loving well is that we want equality for all, we want freedom for all, we want justice for all. We leave no one out and no one behind. When we know that two in three young people will experience abuse because of their sexuality or gender diversity, we support IDAHOBIT Day particularly. We strive, though, to live out that support every other day as well, in order that those young people, indeed all young people, as well as any of our staff who are LGBTQIA+ have the assurance that we stand with them.”


To read Major Jenny Begent’s prayer, watch Bam’s story and learn more about The Salvation Army’s Inclusion Statement, click here.