South Australian state Labor MP Ian Hunter has raised community concerns in Parliament about proposed changes to service models for The Second Story, a gay youth support service in South Australia.
The Second Story’s Inside Out Project offers counselling, workshops, support groups, advocacy, HIV/AIDS counselling and testing, and links to other support agencies. It’s run by the state’s Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service.
The openly gay MP used the upcoming International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO) to highlight ongoing discrimination against the GLBT community and voice his concern about any changes to the Inside Out Project.
“I have been told that management has decided to cut the Inside Out Project’s Friday night drop-in sessions and peer education training,” Hunter said.
“Knowing the [health] minister’s strong support for such programs in the past, I sincerely hope that the concerns that have been expressed to me are misplaced.”
Hunter went on to quote one of his constituents, who had approached him regarding the importance of Inside Out.
“[He] told me that the Inside Out Project has ‘been most valuable in helping me come to terms with my sexuality, plus contributed to my physical, psychological and emotional health and wellbeing’. The Inside Out Project has provided him with a feeling of belonging and a crucial network of support,” he said.
Hunter wrote to state health minister John Hill about the mainstreaming of the specialised service and asked program management to swiftly explain that the review they are proposing is not designed to cut services to gay and lesbian youth.
“They certainly have not handled this issue well. There was an article that appeared in The (Adelaide) Advertiser last week and three mentions in a recent edition of Blaze … all raising this issue,” he said.
Hunter told the Star Observer he’d received a formal response from Hill denying claims of proposed changes to the service and his office has arranged a meeting with program management this week so he can put his concerns to them directly.