The community reception to celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) in Warrnambool has dramatically changed over the past five years, one of the city's LBGT+ service worker said.
Safe in the South West project coordinator Lyn Eales said businesses, schools and organisations took it upon themselves to celebrate inclusion and diversity for May 17.
"Five years ago, this day looked entirely different," Ms Eales said. "Now, it excites me.
"We don't want to go back to the horrific marriage equality debate which was quite divisive, however it has also enabled community members and allies to step up and stand up.
"The wider community members feels much more informed, educated and prepared to call out discrimination where they see it in homes, communities, sporting fields and in workplaces.
"Schools have become more supportive environments and this IDAHOBIT Day we're seeing a lot of businesses are doing mini events or throwing flags up."
IDAHOBIT Day is celebrated around the world on May 17 and Warrnambool's official events kick off at 11am with a flag raising ceremony at the Civic Green by Warrnambool City Council followed by refreshments in the Warrnambool Art Gallery. All are invited to attend and wear a pop of rainbow colouring.
Warrnambool mayor Vickie Jellie said the council was taking a pro-active approach to getting involved in community celebrations.
"A new council has come in and there are things that may not have been recognised over the years that we definitely want to do and IDAHOBIT Day is one of them," she said.
"It's important to look at how far we've come in supporting and celebrating our LBGT+ community but we also must recognise that there's still a long way to go.
"We stand with the LBGT+ community in solidarity and we want to make it so everyone is heard and has a voice.
"We want to be part of the change and advocate for our city where all people are safe and supported.
"We look forward to celebrating IDAHOBIT Day annually, but we also want to do a lot more work at council to be part of the community."
Ms Eales said many businesses had reached out to say they will be throwing a morning tea or encouraging their staff to wear rainbow colours.
The students of Derrinallum P-12 College took festivities one step further and painted the Progressing Flag to mark IDAHOBIT Day.
"What an amazing visual representation of support," Ms Eales said. "That whole community will drive past the school at some point and see the massive flag on the wall.
"The students told me they're feeling so proud and they've also become informed and educated through the painting process.
"The great divide between community champions and supporters doesn't exist because from what I see, there's allies everywhere.
"When a community is inclusive, it promotes better health and mental health outcomes. It also provides safety and support for our gender diverse people.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content
Catch up on the headlines of the week with our weekly podcast The Booletin and Beyond released every Sunday:
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.