A grant received by the Telethon Kids Institute will be used to research the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous LGBTI young people.

The $716,000 grant was announced by health minister Greg Hunt this week, as part of the latest round of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding.

Head of mental health and youth research at the Institute, Dr Ashleigh Lin, will work with Indigenous LGBTI suicide prevention group Black Rainbow, Western Sydney University, and the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre at Murdoch University to complete the research.

“We know that being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, being young, and being LGBTI are all risk factors for poor mental health and suicide,” she said.

“But there’s really not very much known about what happens when you are a member of all three of these groups.

“The research is almost non-existent. This project aims to better understand the social and emotional needs of this vulnerable group and the barriers they face when accessing health services. We will then work with them to co-design appropriate interventions to improve their mental health and wellbeing.”

Founder of Black Rainbow, Dameyon Bonson, has spent the past five years raising awareness around the gap in suicide prevention.

He said the research will be the first of its kind.

“While the focus is on young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people, I am confident that we will begin to see research that is across all age groups,” he told the Star Observer.

“These are conversations I have been having concurrently to this project for some time now, because we so desperately need to know and understand the social and emotional wellbeing and mental health of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTI people.

“This is an exciting project to be part of. It is a project that is something independent of Black Rainbow, but Black Rainbow is definitely in the mix as a community partner.”

The three-year project will be conducted in Western Australia, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory.

Last month, Bonson gave a speech calling out the erasure of Indigenous LGBTI people from both Indigenous health and queer health literature.

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