ACON has announced that the New South Wales government will invest up to $3.5 million in a new LGBTIQ+ Health Centre.

The Centre will provide health care, support and referral services to LGBTIQ+ people in New South Wales, ACON said in a statement.

The government has committed an initial $500,000 towards more detailed feasibility study and planning work for the Centre.

The government will then put forward an additional $3 million to establish the Centre, which will look to service members of the community throughout New South Wales.

ACON says the centre will be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, and that they will partner with research bodies and organisations to strengthen evidence around effective queer health service provision.

The government has also committed to outlining an LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy to be delivered by the end of 2019.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill welcomed the funding, calling it a “cautious, but important commitment”.

“We commit ourselves to ensuring we consult with our communities, potential other partners and stakeholders to ensure we can establish the Centre.

“Our vision for this Health Centre is that LGBTIQ+ people feel safe, understood and included as they seek health care.

“Through the establishment of a multi-disciplinary, community driven health service, we know we can make a meaningful contribution to addressing the significant gaps in health service delivery for LGBTIQ+ people and their families.”

Parkhill said that the Centre would help combat health care inequities, including lack of data collection, LGBTIQ+-specific issues being misunderstood by health care professionals, lack of research funding, and policy statements not being translated into action.

“The huge disparity in mental health rates, among many other areas of health, has not changed in over a decade – and in fact we have some data to suggest this situation is worsening,” he said.

“ACON also welcomes a commitment from the NSW Government that the Ministry of Health will work with us, and a range of others in our communities, to develop a comprehensive and inclusive LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy by the end of the year, a critical step towards improving our communities’ health and wellbeing into the future.

“LGBTIQ+ people deserve a Health Centre that understands and responds to their needs – we look forward to developing a service that will fill a significant gap in the current NSW health system,” Parkhill said.

ACON thanked Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich for working with ACON to secure the funding.

“I’m proud to have helped secure funding towards a dedicated LBGTIQ+ Health Centre for ACON,” Greenwich said.

“Through healthcare provision and research this project will help improve the health and well-being of the LGBTIQ+ community now into the future.”

The funding commitment comes following NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s indication that the government may move to replicate Victoria’s proposed ban on conversion therapy and ahead of the state election on March 23.

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