There has been a significant level of work undertaken by the Victorian Government around its engagement with trans and gender diverse communities and organisations, with a review of the health care system identifying areas of need.

A commitment was made to prioritise the expansion of services within a community health setting, and as a result the Victorian Government has funded a new trans and gender diverse health initiative to establish two new multi-disciplinary clinics in community health services in Preston and Ballarat.

Another component to this initiative is the development of a state-wide training program increasing the capacity of the Victorian health sector to provide health services across the state. Existing services are in high demand due to an increase in people seeking services for gender affirmative health care, and a lack of competent health care providers.  It is critical that this initiative melds with existing services to develop stronger referral pathways and increase options for service users as well as the number of health care providers.

The Victorian Government selected a consortium led by Your Community Health, in partnership with Ballarat Community Health, Austin Health and Thorne Harbour Health to develop new care hubs to increase service access for trans, gender diverse and non-binary people.

“The needs in regional areas are different to the needs in metropolitan areas, and as a consortium, we will work together to address these needs,” Jeremy Wiggins from Your Community Health told Star Observer. “There aren’t high numbers of service providers who are experienced with this area of health, which is why the training component of this initiative is so vital.”

“People living in regional areas may not have great access to transport, and it’s even a challenge that many don’t have access to high speed internet. Safety is a concern for trans and gender diverse people living in regional areas. Providing safe and accessible services whilst developing trust with communities is paramount.

“We have a Peer Navigator located at Ballarat Community Health who can support community members by providing information, support and referral to health services. We are also fortunate to have regional representation on our Consumer Advisory Group so that we have a direct connection to people living in the area who can help guide us about what is needed.”

Transgender Flag. Image Sharon McCutcheon

Working with the trans and gender diverse community to design a model and deliver outcomes that will meet their needs, the initiative is also setting up telehealth links to some metropolitan services which should relieve time and financial pressures for clients.

“Our aim is to establish a regional care hub which provides quality health care to local community members.  We can then share our learnings and reach further into regional Victoria,” said Wiggins.

With the high level of demand for services and significant wait time, they are working closely with existing services to develop a management plan to reduce this.

“We understand the risks associated with long wait times, and we are working on this issue as a matter of priority so that people have timely access to health care” Wiggins said, “We will be communicating to people on the waitlists in collaboration with the service providers that there are now some additional options for seeking health care and providing information on how they can access services now.”

At each clinic site in Preston and Ballarat, there is a Peer Navigator who can meet with community members over the age of 18 to ascertain what their goals and needs are and provide information, support and referral to services within Your Community Health and Ballarat Community health, in addition to a wide range of external health care services including GP’s, counsellors, endocrinologists, clinical psychologists and allied health.

“Major systemic change to effectively meet the needs of our trans and gender diverse communities is going to take time, but this consortia is committed to finding solutions that not only help meet the needs of the community today, but are sustainable into the future.” Wiggins said.

“Whatever your goals are, whether it be to socially, medically or legally affirm your gender or simply to seek a health care provider who can provide general health services, give a Peer Navigatora call or make an appointment.”

Booking an appointment with a Peer Navigator is free and simple. Just call either number below and speak to a receptionist about the trans and gender diverse health services.

Preston: 03 8470 1111

Ballarat: 03 5338 4500

Click here for more information.

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