The Victorian minister responsible for mental health, Lisa Neville, has been accused of neglecting her commitment to GLBT wellbeing after failing to get involved with the Government’s sports code of conduct initiative.
Sport, Recreation and Youth Affairs’s ministerial advisory committee member Rob Mitchell said Neville’s advisors went cold on tie-in mental health initiatives after only one meeting.
“It’s become obvious to me, while we were working with [beyondblue on mental health issue for same-sex attracted youth], there was a leadership vacuum, so what I wanted to do was get it in front of the minister,” he told Sydney Star Observer.
Mitchell said he met with Neville’s chief of staff and another advisor to seek the department ’s involvement, however, he didn’t get any further.
“The minister must know there’s a problem,” Mitchell said. “There’s been a flurry of activity by beyondblue because they’ve been pushed. Now we need to ramp it up to the next logical level, which means making sure the minister knows, when giving grants to beyondblue or Headspace or anyone else, there needs to be a GLBTI component.”
Mitchell said a 2009 Government grant of $30,000 to the WayOut Project — which deals with GLBT rural youth — was not enough.
“We’ve seen nothing from the minister since about GLBTI mental health,” he said.
Opposition mental health spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge labelled Neville “uncaring” for not wanting involvement with the sports initiative which specifically targets homophobia.
“It’s clear that the GLBTI [community] has various levels of discrimination and a lot of challenges in relation to positive mental health … so a group deserving of particular focus and support,” she said.
Wooldridge said the Government needed to ensure general mental health programs were accessible to and supportive of GLBTI people, but also include “specific initiatives” for the community.
“I don’t think [GLBTI mental health] is getting the focus in terms of both the general accessibility and specific initiatives in place,” she said.
Wooldridge said she was “exceptionally disappointed” the minister chose to sidestep in her response.
“I think she was trying to avoid the substance of the issue, which is her lack of commitment to being involved in a positive idea,” Wooldridge said.
A spokeswoman for Neville’s office said while the Department was not involved in the sports code, the Government had released its 10 year mental health reform – Because Mental Health Matters – which aims at “better promoting” mental health services to the GLBTI community, working closer with schools on the issues, and better training the mental health workforce.