By Nicky Bath

I found myself on Larrakia land, Darwin, on election night, initially with a small group of colleagues glued to the TV in a hotel bar and then later with the remaining delegates of the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH)* 2022 conference where we watched Scott Morrison concede. 

An Energy Fuelled by Optimism and Hope

On this historic night, it was a privilege to be with this group of amazing people, united and strong, despite the transphobia and transmisogyny that trans and gender diverse people, and especially trans women and young people, have experienced during the election campaign. The mood in the room was relief and joy, with an energy fuelled by optimism and hope. Hope for a better future. 

When I think about the post-election landscape, I think about buses.  The blue Liberal bus can now go in for a full service and maybe a respray. The repaint, I hope, will demonstrate reflection on how the Liberal party can be inclusive of LGBTIQ+ people and communities and see us as part of the solution in reducing health and wellbeing disparities, rather than the problem. 

LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) was at times welcomed onboard the blue bus, and I am grateful to Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, who demonstrated commitment and understanding of LGBTIQ+ people. Yet we were mostly offered the cheap seats, and when we were asked about the journey the bus should take, the advice was often ignored. The Liberal bus has lost members from our communities as well as some allies, which may impact the future of the Liberal Party. 

There is an expectation by many that the Labor bus will be a smoother ride—that the new Government will tend to the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people. There is an expectation that we will have good seats, be welcomed on board, and our advice on direction considered and embraced. We need to remain focused and make the most of the opportunity to keep the new drivers on the right course. 

This new bus isn’t just red, it is splashed with ‘green’ and ‘teal’. And while there were encouraging LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing announcements from Labor during the campaign, there wasn’t one commitment to LHA’s Election Priorities. With the Greens’ and independents’ increasing, we will work with them to hold the government to account. 

Health Disparities that LGBTIQ+ People Live with Must be Addressed Urgently

The health disparities that LGBTIQ+ people live with must be addressed urgently. It requires a whole government response, investment and commitment that we have not seen in Australia before. Without it nothing will change. 

LHA looks forward to working with the new Parliament. We have a window of opportunity. I will make sure that we seize the opportunities so that, when we look back three years from now, the health and well-being of all LGBTIQ+ people in Australia is improved, and the bus is on the road to success. 

*AusPATH is the national peak body representing, supporting, and connecting those working to strengthen the health, rights and wellbeing of all trans people – binary and non-binary. 

Nicky Bath is CEO of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia the national peak health organisation in Australia for LGBTIQ+ Health and wellbeing.

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