The Queensland Association for Healthy Communities (QAHC) has called on both sides of local politics to commit to matching Victoria’s recent $4million funding pledge for LGBTI suicide prevention initiatives.
Victorian LGBTI youth support groups have welcomed the Baillieu Government funding boon announced last week.
QAHC executive director Paul Martin said Queensland has higher rates of homophobia and fewer LGBTI support services.
“Suicide and poor mental health is the largest problem facing LGBTI Queenslanders, yet we have seen a lack of action by government,” he said.
“Whether people agree or not with issues like same-sex marriage or civil unions, surely we can all agree people shouldn’t feel the need to kill themselves because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Seven Victorian community organisations will receive funding over four years under last week’s funding announcement.
The WayOut Project will receive $1.48 million; Safe Schools Coalition Victoria $416,000; Minus18 $146,000; Rainbow Network $348,000; Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria and the Youth Affairs Council $440,000 each; and $146,000 to Zoe Belle Gender Centre.
ZBGC spokesperson Tom Cho said the funding is a much needed kick-start for the fledgling support service.
“Young sex and gender diverse people are among some of the most vulnerable members of the Victorian community,” he said.
Minus18 convenor Micah Scott said money will go towards consolidating and expanding the group.
“For a lot of same-sex attracted young people the problem [is] that they feel alone,” he said. “The impact organisations like Minus18 make on their wellbeing is profound.”
SSCV coordinator Roz Ward said if the Education Department matches the funding, SSCV could reach 200 schools to implement anti-homophobia measures.
As part of the funding, $220,000 will also be set aside to evaluate the impacts of the initiative.
A further $762,000 will be allocated to support grassroots LGBTI youth programs. The funding will be coordinated by the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria. Small grant rounds will be available over the next three years.
Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said the funding aims to support existing services.
”Research suggests that GLBTI young people can be at higher risk of anxiety, depression, self-harm and drug and alcohol misuse, as a result of
discrimination and abuse,” she said.
“As a result, suicide attempt and self-harm rates among GLBTI communities are significantly higher than among non-GLBTI populations.”