Australia’s peak GLBTI health group has cautiously welcomed a Gillard Government funding promise to tackle GLBTI suicide rates.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pledged $22.4 million — as part of a $277 million mental health package —– to target suicide in at-risk groups, including gay, lesbian and bisexual people, men and Indigenous Australians, if re-elected.

National LGBT Health Alliance executive director Gabi Rosenstreich told Southern Star she was pleased the Government was starting to take notice of the community’s mental health needs.

“I think it’s fantastic the Government has listened to us in this instance and made a commitment to work with the LGBT community sector to make a real improvement in the mental health of LGBT people,” she said.

Prime Ministerial spokeswoman Nardia Dazkiw would not go into detail as to how the $22.4 million will be sliced up between the three at-risk groups identified, however, she said the Government would consult with the GLBTI community on how the money would be spent.

“Funding will be provided to communities with the highest needs and to projects which can make the highest impact across each of these groups,” she told Southern Star.

“Services that funding may be directed to include training frontline workers to identify and respond to suicide, and community health promotion and prevention activities to build resilience and positive mental health.”

Rosenstreich has, however, warned that rolling out a national program would be difficult as the GLBTI health sector is critically under-resourced and the LGBT Health Alliance itself — the country’s peak body — is not provided ongoing Government funding.

“We are still awaiting a commitment that an incoming government will support the structures to engage with the LGBT community sector,” Rosenstreich said.

The Greens have announced they will seek $300,000 government funding a year, for four years, for a “properly-resourced” national peak body for the GLBTI community after the election.

Although the Government’s failure to include the transgender community in the announcement was picked up by some, Dazkiw said the suicide prevention grants would not preclude support for transgender suicide prevention.

“Funding will be targeted to communities of highest need.”

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