• Wiradjuri man Todd Fernando has been appointed Victoria's first Commissioner for LGBTIQ Communities (Supplied )Source: Supplied
Victoria's first Indigenous queer commissioner is ready to advocate and be a strong voice for the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
By
Sarah Collard

Source:
NITV News
23 Sep 2021 - 4:25 PM  UPDATED 23 Sep 2021 - 4:25 PM

Todd Fernando is the first Indigenous person to be appointed in the role as an Australian commissioner and hopes to highlight issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities in Victoria. 

"It's very historic in that way," The Kalarie man from the Wiradjuri Nation told NITV News. 

"To be appointed as Australia's first openly queer and Indigenous Commissioner really does speak volumes to just how far we've come as a nation."

The role is a career highlight for Mr Fernando who grew up struggling to embrace his sexuality. 

Higher education allowed him to have the space and the opportunity to further explore his identity and how he saw himself. 

"It was really about how we have emerged and how we've experienced the last couple of hundred years and that really allowed me to understand my place in Aboriginal society but also in the broader Australian community," he said. 

A 'beautiful rainbow' to support mob

Mr Fernando who has been acting in the role since June has a poignant message for mob growing up who may be struggling with the same issues.

"We see you, we love you and we support you and when you are ready when the time is right for you. There is a big beautiful rainbow world waiting with open arms," he said.

Mr Fernando said it was important that gender diverse and queer communities had a 'champion' in their corner to advocate for them — especially for First Nations people who experience both racism and stigma based on race and sexuality or gender identity. 

"We know that the impacts of colonisation is still reaching many parts of our communities but just know that there's an advocate in your corner that is here to hear your concerns and advocate on your behalf," Mr Fernando said. 

Strong Advocate

He said he hopes to bring the concerns of all LGBTQI+ communities organisations to advocate and spotlight their concerns and bring them to the government. 

"It's really important and I've got to remind myself that the power of my voice." Mr Fernando told NITV news.  

He said people in the diverse community struggled to be accepted within wider society and still faced ongoing trauma and discrimination due to their identities. 

"Many LGBTQ plus folks still experienced discrimination and stigma on a daily basis and having a champion and an advocate inside of government allows us to really put resources to where they need to go." 

Mr Fernando will be in the role until at least 2024.