Victoria’s gender and sexuality commissioner Rowena Allen has called for the health of lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) women in Australia to become a priority.

The call comes in light of the current gaps in research and services for LBQ women, along with the poorer health outcomes they face.

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“There’s never been a better time in terms of significant investment in Victorian LGBTI communities,” Allen told the Star Observer.

“We have an opportunity in front of us to greatly improve the health and wellbeing of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women… we need a response that includes targeted programs considering the unique needs of LBQ women, and we need research to support that response.

“Funding better health outcomes for LBQ women must become a priority.”

Next week the second annual Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer Women’s Health Conference will be held in Melbourne.

Allen believes the conference will provide the chance to address a number of women’s health issues.

“The overwhelming response to last year’s inaugural LBQ Women’s Health Conference is a testament to how much the community wants and needs this important dialogue,” Allen said.

Rowena Allen

Rowena Allen, Victoria’s first Gender and Sexuality Commissioner (image supplied)

“Expanding the scope of the conference to a national level in this second year is a promising sign we’re moving in the right direction.”

ACON recently launched its #SmokeFreeStillFierce campaign to highlight the alarmingly high smoking rates for LBQ women in Australia.

ACON’s director of HIV and sexual health Karen Price agreed with Allen, and said the specific health issues faced by LBQ women need to be addressed.

“We’re committed to highlighting the particular health issues facing LBQ women such as higher rates of smoking, higher rates of substance use, poorer mental health, and lower screening participation rates,” she said.

“But we know there’s a big job ahead of us to ensure our communities’ health issues are better understood by decision makers.”

Price said the conference will ensure there is a space for partners to share knowledge, experience, and thinking on various issues.

“We believe that by bringing women together we will foster collaboration, galvanise effort, and amplify our message,” she said.

Victorian AIDS Council chief executive Simon Ruth said the success of last year’s conference illustrated how important it was.

“The conference is the only one of its kind in Australia, and the huge interest in last year’s event proved how much it is needed, and how much we need to find ways to create opportunities for conversations about women’s health specifically,” he said.

The LBQ Women’s Health Conference is being presented by the Victorian AIDS Council and ACON.

It will take place on Friday May 27 from 9.30am – 4.30pm. Find out more about the conference and the conference program here.

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