Representatives of the Wimmera's new migrant and LGBTIQA+ communities are urging council candidates to prioritise specialised services if elected.
This month, the ratepayers in the region's six council areas will choose from a total of 46 candidates, all of them Caucasian and none of them identifying as a member of the LGBTIQA+ spectrum.
Nhill resident Thablay Sher Khinshwe has researched the successful settlement in Nhill by Karen refugees from southeast Asia.
She said a lack of confidence could explain why people of diverse backgrounds did not stand at these elections.
"They see the council as a powerful place," she said. "Especially migrants like Karen refugees, we feel we don't have enough qualifications or experience in leadership roles.
"Because we are an emerging community, the settlement is going well, but we still need to work on it. When you look at towns such as Bendigo and Ballarat, they have enough resources to support new arrivals from different in countries.
"In the Wimmera, we don't have much; we still need to make service providers aware of how to talk to someone that doesn't speak English, how to use interpreter, basic things."
"To the councillors, they should consider the diverse groups in the community. They have special needs such as (addressing) a language barrier, and accessing basic services.
"There is no one answer, there are a lot of ways to it. Maybe there could be a council plan, or getting someone from the community to represent that group."
The Victorian Pride Lobby has called on council candidates to take the Rainbow Local Government pledge.
This five-point pledge lays out what the VPL believes councillors should do to be inclusive of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Asexual people. The points include creating a specific action plan or advisory committee for this section of society.
Co-convener Nevena Spirovska said the lobby's Rainbow Votes campaign, which the pledge forms part of, also sought to support LGBTIQA+ to run for election.
Ms Spirovska said the number of LGBTIQA+ people running dropped off the further away from Melbourne they lived.
"In Ballarat, we have not only had a lot of people take the Rainbow pledge, but also a number of people who identify as LGBTIQA+ run," she said. "Horsham is part of our 'iffy 11', where we haven't had someone from our community come forward or take the pledge just yet.
"We have seen a lot of improvement over the last couple of years with the activation of rural and regional pride events, and other small community groups really stepping up to make sure everyone feels welcome and included. It could be that people don't feel comfortable coming forward (to run for council) just yet, it could be they are still out on their journey."
Hindmarsh Shire candidates Melanie Albrecht, Wendy Bywaters, Sharon Maloney and Debra Nelson have all signed the pledge in full.
Horsham candidates Penny Flynn and Claudia Haenel, Yarriambiack's Karly Kirk, Northern Grampians' Lauren Dempsey and Ararat's Jo Armstrong and Cecilia Fresle have partially committed. Others are yet to take the survey.
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Ms Spirovska urged those ultimately elected as Wimmera councillors this month to give people of all genders and sexualities opportunities to provide feedback on services.
"We know Yarra City Council provides specialised services, recognising there may be barriers to loneliness or accessing more mainstream services, so that's one example," she said.
"We have also had some feedback that more services explicitly for LGBTIQA+ young people (would help), so they know that if they need someone to talk to or somewhere they can go if they are facing bullying and harassment, that there is a specialised person there that understands their needs.
"Doing so will not only improve the community for LGBTIQA+ people, but also more broadly to make it more inclusive."
Wimmera Pride Project's communications manager Patrick Quaine said candidates who taking the pledge - in particular point four, flying the rainbow flag at council buildings - would mean a lot to people of different genders and sexualities.
"A lot of people in our communtiy face a lot fo discrimination, and there are a lot of people that don't feel safe to come out," he said. "By flying that flag and acknowledging the council does want them to feel safe and welcome, it might encourage more people to come out and then you might have more people willing to sit on an advisory committee to the council."
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