THE Victorian Government recently announced it will provide $1.2 million to programs across the state to help support the rights and mental health of young LGBTI people.

Announced by Equality Minister Martin Foley, the recipients of this year’s round of funding include Minus18, Rainbow Network, and Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria.

[showads ad=MREC]“The statistics tell us that young LGBTI people are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide,” he said.

“Equal rights for LGBTI Victorians are not negotiable… we want to give young LGBTI people the support they need to be themselves and live in a society that respects them for who they are.”

Past recipients have used the grants to support activism during the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, to run local festivals, and to create video projects interviewing sexual and gender diverse people to be screened in high schools.

More recently, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria used the funding to establish Jews All Diverse and Equal (JADE), an LGBTI advisory group.

The funding comes under the Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) project, aimed at raising awareness and promoting the acceptance of diversity.

Youth Affairs Council of Victoria chief executive Georgie Ferrari acknowledged that both the current and previous Victorian Governments have the LGBTI community’s best interests at heart.

“Minister Foley’s commitment builds on the four-year commitment from the previous government,” she told the Star Observer.

“We’re delighted to see that the Labor Government can see the value and initiative in this funding.

“They’re not playing politics, they know it’s an important issue… regardless of which side of politics you’re on.”

The funding is part of the $5.9 million secured in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget to support programs promoting the wellbeing of LGBTI Victorians.

As a community organisation, the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria is allocated the money by the government, and is then responsible for voting on the each year’s recipients.

“Really what the government is aiming to do with this money is to get a range of diverse initiatives going that work on a local level with young people,” Ferrari said.

“It’s a really unique model where the government understands that this sector is the best place to make recommendations about who gets the funding.”

The announcement was made last Friday on Wear it Purple Day, and the funding includes a smaller round of grants for innovative projects such as social support groups.

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