Run jointly by the National LGBTI Health Alliance and existing phone counselling services in five states, the QLife project will receive $3.3 million over two years from the federal government and provide a 1800 phone number staffed by counsellors as well as an online support program. The 1800 number will be operational from 5.30pm to 10.30pm every evening, seven days a week.
Announcing the WA rollout of the initiative at an LGBTI industry forum in Perth on Wednesday, new Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Jacinta Collins said the hotline would eventually be accompanied by online chat support and forums, an email response service and visual-based information on mental health issues.
“These services can go a long way to helping people overcome the negative mental health impacts of discrimination, stigma and social isolation because of their sexual orientation, sex or gender,” Collins said.
Collins was only appointed as Mental Health Minister earlier this month, with the project largely implemented by her predecessor Mark Butler. She was joined at the forum by openly gay WA Labor Senator Louise Pratt, who said the hotline would be especially beneficial to LGBTI Australians in regional areas.
“Through this QLife collaboration, we know that local mental health services like those delivered by the gay and lesbian community services of Western Australia will be able to reach more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people who need support, which is particularly important to regional WA,” Pratt said.
The project is a major one for the LGBTI Health Alliance, a coalition of LGBTI health and rights groups that formed in July 2009 and has expanded to around 67 member bodies since. It counts the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, Beyondblue, the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and Organisation International Intersex Australia as some of its most prominent members.
National LGBTI Health Alliance Executive Director Warren Talbot welcomed the government’s support, saying the funding would enable the Alliance to coordinate and train staff on a national scale.
“This is a positive initiative which will support good mental health for LGBTI communities,” Mr Talbot said.