Getting Real About Public Health Policy

How the Victorian political parties stack up to safeguard LGBTIQ Health, Wellbeing and Equality

drummond street services welcomes the opportunity to offer its comments on the Labor, Liberal, and Green’s parties election platforms proposed for the LGBTIQ communities in the lead-up to Victorian State election.

We firstly need to acknowledge and recognise the achievements of the Andrew’s led Labor government and their renewed commitments to build on their investment in infrastructure, capacity building and substantial service investment across a range of LGBTIQ health and wellbeing areas. Therefore, it is critically important that the Liberal State party, if elected, build on rather than dismantle this investment.

Karen Field, CEO, drummond street services – queerspace, says, “both the Labor and Greens parties continue to demonstrate their commitment in using existing evidence to address the real causes of disadvantage, exclusion, discrimination that contribute to poorer health and wellbeing outcomes for many LGBTIQ Victorians and their families and children.”

“As well as their ongoing pledges to implement the urgent legislative reforms that ensure the human rights of LGBTIQ Victorians, including the eradication of legally sanctioned discrimination.”

We are delighted to see both party’s commitment to address in real terms critical issues of LGBTIQ housing and homelessness, mental health, inclusive health care and slated legislative reforms to address discrimination. Labor’s new investment in the much-needed support of families of LGBTIQ people, their housing/homelessness package and ongoing investment in social and health infrastructure that is inclusive of elders, bisexual and multi-gender attracted communities, along with their funding for family violence and mental health services. Commitments and funding to public health policy and programs needs to be commended to any government, and it has been the Andrews Labor government that has put dollars and actions into this commitment. We need all parties to do this.

The Liberal party’s commitment to Health and HIV testing is also welcome. However, we do need to express some concerns on the lightness of the detail in their platform. Without any explicit commitments to new or expanded funding, the health and wellbeing needs of all LGBTIQ Victorians and the existing services, we need those assurances, and we need them NOW.

The lack of detail on funding continuity of social and infrastructure investment or existing LGBTIQ specific services, many established under the Andrew’s government; in areas of housing, homelessness, family violence, mental health, Seniors support, and capacity building for LGBTIQ peer-based LGBTIQ organisation’s is concerning.

We agree with some of their points outlining the dearth of current Australian research investment, and the need to further LGBTIQ specific evidence. As well as the specific and diverse needs of those living regional and rural areas, people with Intersex variations, and our Trans and gender diverse Victorians. We do question the value of a Parliamentary Inquiry as the mechanism to do this. At this time, we need to progress the development of a Victorian LGBTIQ Health and Wellbeing Plan. An action-oriented plan that provides an investment blue print that support the full range of health and wellbeing needs for all LGBTIQ Victorians and their families.

Additionally, this plan would map existing, as well as identify opportunities to target and expand investment to address the diverse and needs of specific groups. It would also ensure the setting of targets, and the mechanisms to measure actual outcomes, reported annually. This ensures public accountability, transparency and important visibility of the issues and needs of the LGBTIQ communities. We also strongly challenge some of the assertions expressed in the Liberal’s statement, which appear to politicise and question the value and achievements of the Gender & Sexuality and Equality Commissioner, and their Branch.

As a LGBTIQ service organisation, deeply embedded within the community, we dispute the framing of the Commissioners role as “vague and nebulous to date”. This is not our experience, nor importantly of many LGBTIQ Victorians. It has been instrumental in coordinating and propelling effort across broad-ranging policy areas and overseeing significant investment in real services and actions. Since the establishment of this role (a first) we have witnessed unprecedented achievement in the building of both needed infrastructure, capacity building and coordinated public health investment in LGBTIQ health and wellbeing. The offering up of an Inquiry and criticism of the Commission diminishes the achievements, as well providing little comfort for LGBTIQ support needs.

“The last 3 years – we have come so far and been through so much – with the politicisation of the LGBTIQ community at the hands of conservative political commentary. It is these impacts we continue to see every day in the increased demand for our queerspace LGBTIQ mental health services. This is not the time to question the merits of the hard-fought existing infrastructure, services and the small but important gains. What is needed now is transparent and authentic commitments and statements to continued investment, accountability and visibility. No dismantling or risks to services but more public health investment towards LGBTIQ health, wellbeing and healing.”

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