Gay youth support group the WayOut Project has picked up a $30,000 Government grant.
Victorian Mental Health Minister Lisa Neville announced the funding as part of Mental Health Week, which ran from October 4-10. Neville also called for greater public awareness and support for mental health issues within the GLBTI community.
In a statement, Neville said many GLBTI people led successful lives, but acknowledged there was far greater risk of poor mental health in the GLBTI community.
“There is a significant body of research that links this community’s experience of discrimination and abuse to a higher risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and drug and alcohol misuse,” Neville said.
“Same-sex attracted youth are vulnerable to homophobic abuse, which in turn is related to high rates of self-harm, problematic substance use, suicide and depression and anxiety.”
Neville said research also shows same-sex attracted young people face particular stress while coming out.
WayOut co-ordinator Sue Hackney last month aired her frustration at a continual failure of Government to support projects to protect young GLBTI people from harm, saying she had lobbied the unsuccessfully for seven years.
The recurrent $30,000 annual funding will improve WayOut’s capacity to help young GLBTI people and tackle homophobia in rural areas.
Neville’s decision follows sustained criticism from gay activist Rob Mitchell who recently hit out at the Government for not doing enough to support GLBTI mental health initiatives.
His website — www.sweetfa.com — chastised beyondblue and Neville for the lack of response.
Mitchell told Southern Star the funding announcement and public statement during Mental Health Week are positive steps.
“This $30,000 is a down payment on the goodwill required for the GLBTI community… now we need to turn that trickle into a river,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Neville denied the funding was in response to criticism about Government inaction and said the issue has been on the minister’s radar.
“We are in tune with the issues generally and we think it’s right in this time, during Mental Health Week, to let the public know that this can be a vulnerable group in the community,” the spokeswoman said.
Hackney welcomed the additional funding however said the project still needs extra cash to keep it running.
“We’re happy, it’s important symbolically, especially the Minister’s comments on supporting vulnerable diverse communities,” she said.
“There are still significant challenges to meet. We’re a big catchment area, all of rural Victoria, so we welcome further discussion in this high demand area.”

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