The consultation is being guided by the current GLBTI Health and Wellbeing Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), formed in January 2013 by Health Minister David Davis and Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge, and made up of diverse LGBTI community leaders.
Community members can make written submissions to the consultation or participate in general community forums and specific sessions targeted at, for example, the intersex community, the bisexual community and the Indigenous health sector.
State health department spokesperson Bram Alexander told the Star Observer the first two targeted consultations with the trans* community and on parents and guardians of transgender and gender diverse children and youth were well attended.
Alexander said the advice coming out of these sessions would inform policy across a number of Victorian Government portfolios.
“The health and wellbeing plan will identify priority health issues for the GLBTI community and provide a solid framework and strategic guidance for current and future policy development within the health, aged care, mental health and drug services portfolios of the Victorian Government,” he said.
MAC member and director of Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria Liam Leonard told the Star Observer the consultation was vital for connecting the broader LGBTI community to the often opaque process of policy development.
“It will have a sense of ownership for people in the community. If you just do these things in a vacuum and then just release reports, if you don’t actually consult with the community to see if it’s real, even if what you write up is good, people will nonetheless feel like they haven’t been part of the process,” he argued.
Leonard said he expected some of the issues that will come up in the rural forum and in the trans* and intersex forums are likely not to have been considered by the MAC.
He also identified a “sea change” in Victoria in recent years around bipartisan support for LGBTI health and wellbeing in the state government.
“What Victoria has had, unlike almost any other state, has meant that within government there’s been this group that’s been tagged ‘GLBTI’, and over time that’s been reflected in a number of policy positions being developed within government,” Leornard said.
“So I do think Victoria’s unusual in that the existence of a MAC over 14 years has meant that government has had this little GLBTI powerhouse in a way that other governments in other states and territories haven’t around GLBTI issues. Having said that, things are starting to change across the country.”
For more information on the Victorian Government’s consultation with the LGBTI community and how to get involved, visit www.health.vic.gov.au