A NEW model of care is being developed for homeless services in Victoria to ensure they adequately support trans and gender diverse Australians experiencing homelessness.

With an expected 12 months of development, the project will result in an online resource for support services to use as a guide on how to meet the specific needs of the trans community.

The project forms part of the Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia’s (GALFA) LGBTI homelessness project, and will be undertaken in collaboration with the University of Melbourne, Transgender Victoria, Launch Housing, and Drummond Street Services.

Dr Ruth McNair, a member of the project team, said that many support services haven’t had trans-specific training despite the growing number of trans and gender diverse people finding themselves homeless in Australia.

“Accessibility to services for trans people can be limited, and we’ve heard anecdotally that sometimes they’re safer living on the street than accessing homeless services, which is pretty scary,” she told the Star Observer.

“Our model of care will look at what services need to know, around things like using the right gender pronouns, and making sure they culture in these services is appropriate.

“Quite often trans clients say it’s unsafe for them because there might be transphobic clients or staff.”

Beyond the model of care, McNair added that the government’s policy around homeless also needs an upgrade.

“We’re very interested in Victoria’s homelessness policy – the state government doesn’t include LGBTI people as a special interest group,” she said.

“Yet we know there are special considerations and risk factors that affect LGBTI people and their entry to homelessness.”

The model will be informed by a community reference group and will be designed to complement the existing Rainbow Tick scheme for training on LGBTI inclusivity.

Executive director of Transgender Victoria, Sally Goldner, said she hopes a broad representation of the community is shown through the project.

“While many attitudes have improved towards trans and gender diverse people, we notice many trans people still face family rejection, homelessness, and then difficulty accessing respectful housing services,” she said.

“We will aim to ensure broad representation during our research and in the outcomes.”

Chief Executive of Launch Housing Tony Keenan said the research will help Victoria to develop better responses for trans and gender diverse people experiencing homelessness.

“We know that trans and gender diverse people, in particular trans women, experience homelessness in greater numbers than other Victorians,” he said.

“Their experience can be made worse because of violence and a lack of safety in substandard rooming houses and sadly, sometimes inappropriate responses from service providers.”

The project will be funded as part of the Bendigo Bank Social Investment Grants program.

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