19th October 2023 18:23
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:22): (530) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health, Minister Stitt. 10 October was World Mental Health Day. This is a time to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. On days such as these we are asked to reflect on what more needs to be done to make mental health care more accessible to all.
That being said, many young people at one point or another have struggled with their mental health and limited access to appropriate support. For LGBTIQA+ young people these responses are exacerbated. The Writing Themselves in 4 report by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University surveyed 6418 people living in Australia, aged between 14 and 21 years, and who identified as LGBTIQA+. In their survey they asked participants about their mental health experiences and access to support services. Concerningly, participants reported very high levels of psychological distress, poor mental health and suicidal thoughts. Almost two-thirds of participants reported having ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition. For those who are trans and gender diverse, those living with a disability and those living in rural and remote areas, these experiences were particularly elevated. This is by no means surprising.
This is all concerning in the context of continuing verbal, physical and sexual harassment or assault experienced by LGBTIQA+ young people. This is further compounded by increased rates of homelessness, often from family rejection or violence, an inability to engage in gender or sex-affirming practices and a lack of inclusive policies and structures. In this report’s final recommendations they suggest a focus on prevention and a holistic approach to early interventions through an acute service provision. The action I seek is that the minister act on the recommendations of this report to ensure early intervention programs, inclusive mental health services and access to specialist health services and to encourage a wider dialogue on the inadequacies of current mental health provision services in this context.
Received: 3 November 2023
Hon. Ingrid Stitt MP
(Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Multicultural Affairs)
I thank Rachel Payne MP for her question.
The Allan Labor Government is committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of people from LGBTIQA+ communities, and we unequivocally support the rights of all LGBTIQA+ people to live healthy lives without fear of discrimination and stigma.
Earlier in the year, in the wake of protests against trans and gender diverse people, the Labor Government immediately issued a condemnation and delivered a $900k package for LGBTIQA+ support services to allow them to meet increased demand.
Inclusive and accessible mental health and wellbeing services are pivotal to tackling the high rates of psychological distress and poor mental health in the LGBTQIA+ community. This is why funding was allocated in this year’s State Budget to implement the Rainbow Tick program and boost the number of Rainbow Tick accredited community and mental health providers.
This funding builds on previous year’s State Budget funding to deliver a range of programs, services and supports for Victoria’s LGBTIQA+ communities, including:
- A trial of safe spaces for LGBTIQA+ youth in the Barwon region;
- Continuing of Switchboard’s Rainbow Door program to support LGBTIQA+ Victorians to navigate and access the mental health and wellbeing system;
- Mental health support, primary medical care and peer supports for trans and gender diverse young people; and
- Funding for the Diverse Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Grants Program.
These interventions put a strong focus on preventative measures and the provision of safe and responsive mental health supports and services.
We will continue to work with diverse communities to improve our mental health and wellbeing system, so it is safe and accessible for everyone.