Victorian Minister for Equality Martin Foley announced on on May 19 that Transgender Victoria and Transcend Australia will receive funding as part of this year’s state budget, to expand their peer support services.
“The 2021/22 budget will continue to build on our work towards equality in Victoria – with more than $45 million to improve the lives of LGBTIQ+ Victorians,” Foley said.
The state government will provide an $8.8 million funding package to support wellbeing services for LGBTIQ+ Victorians and a further $4.6 million will be used to develop a diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework and blueprint for action.
Trans and gender diverse people will also have better access to mental health services under the VIctorian budget with $6.4 million being devoted to a range of initiatives to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ+ community.
“We know that our communities experience disproportionately high levels of mental illness and suicide, so it is heartening to see that this initiative will help ensure that LGBTIQ+ Victorians are supported to live full lives and celebrated for who they are,” she said.
Funding Will Reduce Wait Lists For Services
Transcend Australia Founder and Director Rebekah Robertson said funding announcement shows respect and dignity for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“The level of funding and how it is being shared across service providers means that wait lists for trans and gender diverse young people will be significantly reduced, which is a major cause of anxiety and severe distress for many in our community.
“We are very heartened that the Victorian Government has responded to the significant need that currently exists and the provision of wrap around care, especially for the older adolescent and young adult cohort who have been unable to access appropriate services in a timely manner for many years,” Robertson said.
The Victorian Government will also provide $21.4 million for the Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Health’s Gender Clinics to support trans and gender diverse young people with life-saving mental health and wellbeing services.
“As a mother, it makes me relieved and happy for those children and families making their way through services as we speak or who will be in the next year or two.”
More Needs To Be Done At Federal Level
When trying to find information and services to support her daughter’s gender identity, Robertson said she had a very difficult time.
“I know very well the agony of feeling powerless to help my kid, the waiting, the worrying and the impact that has on the whole family,” she said.
Both Robertson and her daughter Georgie Stone won Order of Australian medals last year for their service to the trans and gender diverse community.
While Robertson is happy with the progress in Victoria, she says more needs to be done in other states and at a Federal level to support trans and gender diverse people.
“There are too many governments in Australia failing in their duties to trans and gender diverse children and young people.”
Transgender Victoria media representative Sally Goldner said the funding by the Victorian government is a wonderful sentiment.
“This funding will help strengthen the infrastructure at Transgender Victoria which we need as an organisation that does not receive recurring funding, “Goldner said.
“Other services that received the money like Transcend, we (Transgender Victoria) have a really good relationship with and funding both of us will allow us to bring our expertise together and strengthen our networks which will really benefit trans and gender diverse individuals,” Goldner added.