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No news on $120,000 LGBTI funding

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Bella Sardelis, Reporter

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WA LGBTI organisations are still waiting for changes, set to arise from funding promised in November 2017 by the Western Australian Government. No decisions have yet been announced about how $120,000 health strategy funding will be spent.

The strategy aims to help raise awareness of health and mental health issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

WA Department of Health spokeswoman, Annette Morrissey, said that the LGBTI community experiences higher rates of mental health issues than the general population. This is due to their many experiences of discrimination and exclusion.

Morrissey said the strategy will provide a framework to raise awareness of the specific health and mental challenges of LGBTI people. The health strategy will focus on tackling these health challenges for LGBTI communities.

“This is an important first step for the WA health system to become more aware of the health challenges and needs of the LGBTI, populations and communities in a collective and focused way,” Morrissey said.

Funding for the new health strategy, from the WA government, will go towards engaging relevant stakeholders and support for the LGBTI community.

WA’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, Roger Cook, made a statement in the 2017 ‘Funding boost for LGBTI community media release.’

In his statement he said the health plan assures the LGBTI community will be accepted by the government.

“We are committed to ensuring that no legislation or government policies directly or indirectly discriminate against the LGBTI community,” he said.

The Deputy Premier’s Parliamentary Secretary, Alanna Clohesy, agrees the new strategy will create more awareness on the issue.

“This new strategy will provide the government a blue print to increase the community’s understanding of the experience and needs of the LGBTI community, she said.

According to the LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide Briefing paper from 2013, LGBTI people are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. The paper also outlined LGBTI youth are suffering higher rates of depression and anxiety in comparison to the general population.

The paper explained how the elevated risk of mental illness among LGBTI people is not a result of their sexuality, sex, or gender identity in or of themselves; but it is the discrimination and exclusion members of LGBTI community endure which affects their health.

Transfolk of WA is a, “support service for all transgender people and their loved ones in Western Australia. The organisation provides accessible safe spaces where members can expect dynamic support.”

Spokeswoman Misty Farquhar from Transfolk of WA said LGBTI people undergo many of the same health issues any other person wold have. However, they must face additional barriers of discrimination and invisibility within the health system, with a particular difficulty burdened on trans people.

“Trans people in particular contend with this when attempting to gain access to medical treatments for transition. This also exacerbates mental distress which can often led to more severe mental health issues,” she said.

Farquhar believes the WA government’s current attention to LGBTI community is very scarce and needs more attention.

“The government has not done enough up to this point, which is why it’s fantastic that LGBTI and health has become a priority for them now.”

She said Transfolk of WA are anxious to see whether the WA government’s plan will be a success.

“We are concerned about how effective the strategy will be, given the time frames.”

The LGBTI community is waiting for the Government to finalise decisions in regards to the proposed health strategy.

WA organisations are creating groups and communities to assist in the funding process that is yet to occur.

Healthy WA reported in March 2018, “WA LGBTI community representatives are invited to apply to join the LGBTI Health Reference Group, including those that provide health/mental health services to WA LGBTI communities, or deliver LGBTI inclusive training to other sectors.”

Applications for the Reference Group closed April 9 2018.

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About the Writer
Bella Sardelis, Reporter

Bella is a young journalist who aspires to become a TV Presenter. She has a great love and passion for the arts in particular: entertainment, music and...

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No news on $120,000 LGBTI funding