A new working group set up to improve the delivery of federal government services to LGBTI people has met.

National LGBTI Health Alliance chair Paul Martin said the group has been established to improve the experiences of LGBTI people when dealing with government services.

“We are confident this exercise will make a difference to LGBTI Australians who are experiencing disadvantage in many areas of life, such as employment, housing, appropriate health care, and access to services that really understand their unique needs,” Martin said.

The group, established by the Department of Human Services, came about after much lobbying and is made up of LGBTI representatives from around Australia. It met with then Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek on December 8.

Alliance CEO Warren Talbot (pictured) told the Star Observer while one-off LGBTI working groups have been established in the past, it’s the first time a group has been set up to liaise with a government department on a regular basis. The group has been appointed for two years.

“It’s not to fix or address an immediate pressing problem,” Talbot said.

“With the [changes to] 85 pieces of legislation [which removed discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples] people should be treated equally but it might be a matter of doing some monitoring or review of how well that’s going.

“I’d like to see the adoption of an LGBTI customer service delivery charter of some sort.”

The working group is set to publish an issues paper over the next four months to identify some of the issues LGBTI people face.

The DHS incorporates Centrelink, Medicare, and disability employment support agency CRS. It also delivers services on behalf of nine other government departments.

Talbot said the group would look at areas including access to medication for sex and gender diverse people and the family payment system.

The working group consists of former New Mardi Gras chair Michael Woodhouse, retired Uniting Church minister Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Alliance health policy officer Sujay Kentlyn, UnitingCare Cutting Edge former CEO Rowena Allen, Queensland Queer Coalition spokesman Russell Flynn, Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia president Gina Wilson, gerontologist and LGBTI ageing expert Dr Jo Harrison and A Gender Agenda spokesperson Peter Hyndal.

In October Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler met with 40 representatives from LGBTI community groups to discuss improving aged care for LGBTI seniors.

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