Australia’s peak LGBTI health advocacy body has finally won federal core funding for the first time since its establishment in 2009.

After much prodding behind the scenes, the National LGBTI Health Alliance will receive $193,000 funding from the Department of Health and Ageing which will see the organisation through until June 2012.

Alliance CEO Warren Talbot said, although the funding commitment is short, the announcement was a breakthrough for the health body which has cried out for organisational funding since its establishment.

“Earlier this year there was a possibility the Alliance could effectively have no core funding whatsoever, so without core funding the Alliance would be in a very difficult situation and would not have been able to provide basic services,” Talbot told the Star Observer.

“It’s a very important breakthrough for the Alliance to be recognised as a national NGO [non-government organisation] voice concerned about the health and social wellbeing of LGBTI Australians.”

The Star Observer understands the Alliance is the first new national NGO to secure federal core funding in more than four years.

The organisation has struggled to stay afloat after set-up funding from its member organisations ran out.

Securing federal funding for LGBTI health issues, other than HIV, has been hard-fought. To date, LGBTI health, in all its strands, is not covered by a national action plan, like other at-risk community groups, or specifically resourced within government departments.

In April this year, Alliance founding executive director Gabi Rosenstreich was forced to step down due to a lack of recurrent funding to keep her position secure.

Health indicators in a number of areas, particularly in mental health and suicide ideation, show LGBTI Australians fare worse than other Australians.

The Alliance will use its core funding in two areas — to increase its efforts in health policy development, and to improve its services to members.

Talbot said the Alliance’s LGBTI health policy priority areas — other than mental health, which the organisation has been funded to tackle — include aged care and sex and gender diversity.

In July, Mental Health Minister Mark Butler announced the Alliance would receive $1.1 million to combat high levels of poor mental health and suicide risk in the LGBTI community as part of a two-year MindOUT mental health and suicide prevention project.

Alliance vice chair Susan Ditter said the funding outcome is a good result for the Alliance and paid tribute to Rosenstreich’s work in getting the organisation there.

“Gabi’s committed leadership, with significant input from the board and other Alliance members, has led to this outcome,” Ditter said.

The Alliance has 70 LGBTI member organisations across Australia.

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