A broad coalition of health and wellbeing NGOs have issued a join statement today, calling on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to collect “appropriate and meaningful … data on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status” in the 2021 Census for the very first time.

The group statement has been endorsed by the LGBTI Health Alliance, Suicide Prevention Australia, Rainbow Health Victoria, the Kirby Institute, Demential Australia, the Cancer Council, ACOSS, Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders, Jean Hailes For Womens Health, AFAO, The Equality Project, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Mental Health Australia, Black Dog Institute, Palliative Care Australia, IHRA, the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, Disability Employment Australia, Everymind, Connect Groups, Shelter WA, and the The Pinnacle Foundation, among others.

The ABS recently identified sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status as categories for potential inclusion in the 2021 Census, and the groups say that meaningful inclusion of data in this area is welcome as there are no other data sources to produce reliable statistics.

“The Census is best placed to understand the cultural, economic and social diversity of our communities, providing information about the population across small geographic areas and long-time trends in key aspects of the lives of Australians,” the groups say.

“Census data underpins government funding and investment and informs government decisions in a range of areas, including healthcare and social services planning.”

“The current exclusion of appropriate sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status questions in the Census means that clear demographic data of the Australian population is not being captured.”

The groups believe that better data in this area would help deliver strategies, policies and programs around LGBTQI heath outcomes and wellbeing.

“Asking appropriate questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in the Census is crucial in fostering an evidence-informed environment for health and economic policy service planning and understanding health and social service utilisation,” the groups say, “This is essential in addressing the significant health disparities that LGBTI people experience.”

The groups note that the UK, Canada and the United States are all currently in the process of considering the inclusion of questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in their own upcoming censuses.

“Australia has a unique opportunity to provide statistical leadership in the collection, production and analysis of data for LGBTI populations,” the groups say.

“The inclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in the 2021 Census will promote scientific excellence and data integrity. This will have an enormous impact on improving social cohesion and the health outcomes of LGBTI people and communities.”

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