A mainstream counselling service is looking at how ‘resilient’ LGBTI people are in Melbourne and how the community can help itself instead of depending on government support.

Drummond Street Services launched an online survey this week, asking what makes queer people resilient and what contributes to their physical and mental health.

It’s part of the organisation’s Queer Bill of Health research project funded by the City of Yarra.

Drummond Street CEO Karen Field said the 200 LGBTI clients at Drummond often had more than just one health-related problem when they visited the agency.

She told the Star Observer much of the existing research into LGBTI health was focused on risk factors of homophobia and its impact.

“There’s a lack of research around knowing what are the factors of resilience for this community and that’s what we’re hoping to find out from this survey,” she said.

“The idea behind the resilience notion, when I think back over the years this community has been at the forefront around so many health issues that have impacted us.”

The most significant example of LGBTI ‘resilience’ was its prevention and support work during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ‘90s, Field said.

For years, advocacy groups have pushed governments to address homophobia and fund anti-homophobia programs and campaigns.

Field said she believed homophobia would never be completely eradicated and said she hoped the research will yield some alternatives that will empower people to help each other.

“Could we be mentors to our own same-sex attracted young people or young people who have gender identity issues rather than waiting in a passive kind of way for governments to provide services for us because it’s just not happening,” she said.

INFO: To take part in the survey, visit www.ds.org.au.

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