THE Victorian Government plans to boost funding to support the mental health and wellbeing of the state’s sexual and gender diverse community.

The government will allocate $500,000 to services and projects for vulnerable groups in the community such as LGBTI youth, Aboriginal people, and people living in regional areas.

Minister for Equality Martin Foley said the funding boost comes in light of the still-looming same-sex marriage plebiscite, which was recently allocated $170 million in the federal budget despite being voted down by the Senate last year.

“Malcolm Turnbull needs to rule out this Liberal Party opinion poll that is nothing but damaging and divisive,” he said.

“We’re ensuring our hard working mental health organisations have additional funds to ensure those who need support get it.

“We’re supporting online resources because we know the fight for equality is beyond the tram lines.”

As part of the funding package, the peer-based telephone counselling service for LGBTI people Switchboard will receive $100,000 to provide additional training for volunteer counsellors and to update their telecommunications infrastructure.

Drummond Street counselling service will receive $50,000 to provide counselling to more LGBTI Victorians as a means to reduce its waiting list.

Headspace will receive $100,000 to increase capacity in Mildura to support rural and regional-based LGBTI people, and Kunghah – an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander gathering of the LGBTI community – will receive $100,000 to support projects that promote inclusion.

The Victorian Pride Centre will receive $100,000 to establish a virtual platform of mental health resources, and a further $50,000 has been set aside to support other services experiencing increased demand.

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