ACON has released its lesbian health strategy, a comprehensive statewide plan for addressing the distinct health needs of the lesbian community. This marks the first time since the Lesbian Health Project’s inception in 1999 that steps have been taken to consolidate the community health organisation’s approach to lesbian needs.
The three-year plan outlines nine strategic focus points for the project: sexual health, alcohol and other drugs, mental health, violence, cancer, youth and ageing, relationships, parenting and fertility. While all of these areas have always been covered by ACON through its various services, this will be the first time a defined lesbian strategy has been created. It is hoped that this will not only enable ACON to provide better services but will also be a tool for lobbying and garnering more funding.
This strategy seeks to inform ACON’s service and program provision and to equip ACON with effective lobbying and fundraising mechanisms for our lesbian health initiatives, ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said.
It also sets out a plan to help the mainstream healthcare system acknowledge, understand and address the health and wellbeing issues that affect lesbians.
ACON Lesbian Health Project Officer Siri May has spent many 13-hour days putting together the strategy and hopes it will lead to an improvement in services and policy development.
When it comes to lesbian health we have been working in a bit of a policy vortex up until now. We’re hoping that this strategy will provide more structure and a more formalised approach to the work we do, she said.
We’re also hoping that it will do something to address the funding issues which surround lesbian health. In the past you’ve almost had to say that there was something wrong with being a lesbian in order to get funding, which is obviously something we don’t want to do. With this strategy though, it lays down an evidence base which shows how our areas are informed and the effects of homophobia on lesbian health.
The draft wording of the strategy is now open for public input. It can be accessed via the ACON website www.acon.org.au.