THE Victorian Government has pledged to renew funding for the HEY Grants scheme to fund projects supporting LGBTI youth mental health and wellbeing if re-elected in November, offering a boost of almost $1 million over the previous arrangement.

The announcement coincides with the release of the LGBTI Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2014–18 by the Department of Health, and a Transgender and Gender Diverse Health and Wellbeing background paper from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on GLBTI Health and Wellbeing.

Launched by Health Minister David Davis and Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge, the action plan comes out of recommendations made by the MAC, and serves as a very high-level strategic plan on LGBTI health and wellbeing.

“The LGBTI Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2014–18 recognises that the LGBTI community, in general, has poorer health and wellbeing than other Victorians in key areas, largely resulting from stigma and discrimination,” Davis said.

Wooldridge echoed his statement, praising Victoria’s reputation as an “inclusive state”.

“We all want communities who are resilient and who have good mental health, with freedom from harassment and violence, and who feel supported to access health services that are welcoming and sensitive to their needs,” she said.

Priorities in the plan include promoting inclusive practise in mainstream health services, research on LGBTI health, and addressing discrimination and stigma in the Victorian health system.

The Transgender and Gender Diverse Health and Wellbeing background paper is being hailed by trans* advocates as ground-breaking.

The paper brings together a wide range of local and international research to identify the healthcare needs to trans* and gender diverse people, and barriers to accessing better healthcare.

Brenda Appleton led the MAC’s Transgender and Intersex Health and Wellbeing working group that developed the background paper, and told the Star Observer there was nothing else like this in Australia.

“I’m not aware of anything in Australia that’s anywhere near this paper,” she said.

“It’s because it is evidence based, it does identify the shortfall in the provision of services, and it is therefore providing to the government an indication of where resources need to be allocated in the future.”

The working group had hoped to include intersex issues in the paper but says they ran out of time — current MAC members have expressed hope a future committee will address intersex in detail.

The pledge from the government today of a further $4.9 million in funding for HEY Grants builds on their initial commitment of $4 million in 2011.

Davis told the Star Observer the commitment to renewed funding for the scheme would not replace the potential for more direct funding for community organisations by the State Government, a recommendation made by the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

“They’re one part of the picture… there’s not one set of grants, there’s potentially more,” he said.

Davis said the option to fund LGBTI peer-led organisations directly remained open.

The pledge for increased HEY (Healthy Equal Youth) Grants funding comes as Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge announced a new list of grant recipients, with over $290,00 going to 13 projects.

Projects funded under the most recent round include:

  • $40,000 for the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health to develop theatre-based workshops for same-sex attracted women from immigrant and refugee communities
  • $22,280 for the Jewish Community Council of Victoria for a project aimed at reducing discrimination against same-sex attracted and sex and gender diverse (SSASGD) youth within the Jewish community
  • $3700 for Melbourne High School to hold an SSASGD youth discussion day
  • $30,000 for Carers Victoria to support SSASGD young people with caring responsibilities
  • $39,472 for JOY 94.9 to develop and deliver a radio course for students in outer Melbourne with restricted access to resources

For more information on the most recent recipients of the HEY Grants, visit www.yacvic.org.au.

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