AN online crowdfunding campaign has been launched by Black Rainbow to create the nation’s first mental health service for Indigenous LGBTI Australians.

Black Rainbow was established in December 2013 to provide a nationwide and online social network for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who identify as LGBTI, sistergirl or brotherboy.

With the help of donations, founder Dameyon Bonson is now hoping to elevate the social group into the Black Rainbow Living Well Foundation to provide mental health services for Indigenous LGBTI Australians.

He said he started the campaign because “there was no other dedicated service out there and there is a solid opportunity to get the ball rolling”.

“We have specific needs and we need a safe space to address those needs. Safe from racism and safe from LGBTI phobia,” he said.

Bonson said Indigenous Australians in the LGBTI community have for the past 15 years been almost invisible in the areas of research and national service provision strategies.

A 2013 report from the National LGBTI Health Alliance acknowledged that Indigenous LGBTI Australians, along with migrants and refugees, young people, and those residing in rural areas were “likely to be at particularly high risk of suicide, in line with tendencies of high risk identified in the population as a whole”.

Dameyon Bonson

Dameyon Bonson is the founder of Black Rainbow.

Bonson said: “We get thrown in the ring with other competing minority groups. Our social and emotional wellbeing and mental health issues and experiences are largely absent from mainstream health, LGBTI health and Indigenous health.”

If the campaign is successful, the foundation would aim to address and remedy the intersection of these issues, including collecting baseline information of the status and needs of Indigenous LGBTI Australians.

With current data revealing a 14-times higher suicide attempt rates among gay people, and how the suicide rate was double among Indigenous people compared to all Australians from research between 2001 and 2010, Bonson said mental health in the Indigenous LGBTI community was an area in need of serious attention.

Black Rainbow’s crowdfunding campaign page stresses: “But we need to be sure. We need to know.”

The campaign also details a five-phase action plan to be implemented so that the foundation can gather research as well as provide access and help to Indigenous Australians on a national level.

The goal is to raise $100,000, but Bonson said the phases ensurd that “no matter the amount, we will be able to achieve something and then try again for more funding”.

He said the money would be used “to do the research, to get a whole lot of the LGBTI people together and inform [them] on the issues on how best to respond”.

“We experience amplified types of oppression and discrimination,” Bonson added.

“Our gender diversity and sexualities are not mutually exclusive from our Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander identities.”

To make a donation to Black Rainbow’s Living Well Foundation crowdfunding campaign click here.

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