LEADING health and wellbeing organisations and groups have come out in support of a new program to make service provision more responsive to the needs of LGBTI people.

Pride in Health + Wellbeing is a new program to make services within the health, human services and wellbeing sectors more inclusive of LGBTI people. A national membership-based program, it will provide partners with support, training and guidance in LGBTI inclusive service delivery.

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The significance of the initiative has already been recognised by a range of leading Australian health organisations that have signed up as foundation members of the program. These include Uniting, Medibank, Flourish Australia, Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network, Reliant Healthcare, Lifeline Australia, ViiV Healthcare and NurseWatch.

Pride in Health + Wellbeing has been developed by ACON as part of its Pride Inclusion Programs.

Dawn Hough, Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, said working in partnership with service providers in the health, human services and wellbeing sectors in delivering quality LGBTI inclusive programs and services can achieve better health and wellbeing outcomes for LGBTI communities.

“Australian LGBTI communities and individuals are extremely diverse and face a number of shared and distinct health and social inclusion issues,” Hough said.

“We also know that when LGBTI individuals require access to health and wellbeing services, they often hit more roadblocks, refrain from accessing critical services, and as a result, experience poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than their non-LGBTI peers.”

Hough said fear of abuse or discrimination forces many LGBTI people to hide their sexual orientation or gender when they access health and wellbeing services, leading to an increase in anxiety or depression.

“It’s a very serious issue and providers across the board really need to be taking action to ensure they provide a sufficient duty of care,” she said.

“Tailored programs delivered by Pride in Health + Wellbeing can assist organisations to meet the overall health outcomes of LGBTI people by addressing the health inequalities of LGBTI communities.”

Any organisation working in the health and wellbeing sector is eligible to join the program, including government departments, hospitals, GPs, aged care, housing, mental health, drug and alcohol, family and domestic violence, and disability services.

ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said the health needs of the LGBTI community have been invisible in health and wellbeing policies and within services, despite growing evidence that they have disproportionate needs.

“Over recent years we have seen this incrementally change with many service providers acknowledging that they can do better in caring for all of their clients,” said Dr Koonin.

“These services are now recognising that LGBTI community members do require unique approaches for the delivery of good healthcare and support.

“Pride in Health + Wellbeing will unite service providers and partner with them to continue to build their expertise and understanding of inclusion. In the future it will be these organisations who will set the gold standard in LGBTI care and truly deliver improved outcomes for all their clients.

“We’re grateful for the support of Pride in Health + Wellbeing’s foundation members and look forward to other organisations coming on board to address this important issue for Australian health service providers.”

www.prideinclusionprograms.com.au/health

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