A Victorian Coalition has promised to invest $4 million in mental health and suicide initiatives to target GLBT young people.
The commitment almost doubles the $2.5 million pledge the Brumby Government has promised for a wider range of measures for the GLBTI community if re-elected.
Opposition Health spokesman David Davis also announced a $200,000 research grant last week to study the effects of accelerated aging in people living with HIV.
“It’s clear there’s international evidence and local evidence that there is a challenge with accelerated ageing that should be looked at in an Australian context,” Davis told the Star Observer.
“This is a first grant in effect, to start that process.”
The mental health initiative is part of a $108 million Coalition promise to improving the state’s mental health services, including $6 million for Headspace youth mental health centres around the state.
Prahran Liberal candidate Clem Newton-Brown said the Coalition was “committed to maintaining and building on” current health and support services currently in place for the GLBT community.
ALSO Foundation CEO Crusader Hillis said he was “heartened” by the Coalition’s inclusion of GLBT mental health, but said any initiatives would need to tackle broad anti-homophobia messages, including transphobia.
“It’s a substantial commitment from them to put a lot of resources and money into some of the biggest areas that are needed, including HIV aging, as well youth suicide and mental health,” Hillis said.
“One of the big determinants of mental health and well-being is respect … so we need to be able to break down the isolation and the shame.
“You can’t just sort of fix someone’s mental health unless you’re starting to fix the things in society that affect mental health badly.”
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby convenor Sarah Rogan broadly welcomed the announcement, but said she would like to see more detail of where the money would go.
“The dollar figure looks good, but it’s quite vague,” Rogan said. “I think it’s good [GLBT youth mental health] is a topic for this election.
“Some of the ‘pink package’ the Labor Party [announced] was welcome, particular the measures on violence prevention, but I don’t think that package went far enough at all, particularly with no reference to any of the trans folk, and funding for the Zoe Belle Gender Centre.”