A dedicated LGBTIQ health centre set to be established in Sydney will be the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
On Friday it was announced the New South Wales government had committed to invest up to $3.5 million into the development, which will provide healthcare, support and referral services to LGBTIQ people in New South Wales.
NSW-based health organisation ACON said it would start work with an initial grant of up to $500,000 to complete more detailed feasibility and planning work for the centre.
Further funding of up to $3 million will be provided to see the establishment of the multidisciplinary Health Centre, providing services to LGBTIQ+ people and their families, ACON said on Friday.
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said his vision was to make the community feel safe, understood and included as they seek health care.
He said when LGBTIQ+ people try to access health care in the state their data is not collected in the health system, and often LGBTIQ people’s specific needs are not well understood by health professionals.
“Through the establishment of a multi-disciplinary, community driven health service, we know we can make a meaningful contribution to addressing the significant gaps in health service delivery for LGBTIQ+ people and their families,” he said.
“We have been advocating for change, and while supportive policy statements have been made, often these are not being translated into action, and comparatively little research funding is allocated to developing the evidence for the most effective health treatments.
“The huge disparity in mental health rates, among many other areas of health, has not changed in over a decade – and in fact we have some data to suggest this situation is worsening.
“Through the Centre, we aim to directly improve access to care that is appropriate, inclusive and responds to the particular drivers of poorer health outcomes for our communities.
“That’s why this commitment is important, and we look forward to working with our communities, potential partners and a range of other stakeholders, to see this Centre up and running.”
The NSW Government has also committed to the development of an LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy, scheduled for completion by December 2019.
ACON thanked New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard for the funding commitment and Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich, who has long advocated for such a centre.
“It will be a place where people will be welcomed, it will be stigma and discrimination free, where the LGBTI community can safely, and in a supported way, get the healthcare they need,” Greenwich said.