Living Proud & WA AIDS Council team up for new youth counselling service

Local LGBTIQ+ support organisations Living Proud and the WA AIDS Council (WAAC) have joined forces on a new LGBTIQA+ youth counselling service, available free of charge.

Created in response to COVID-19, the two not-for-profit groups have created the service for young people between the ages of 14 and 26 who are seeking support with issues surrounding sexuality and gender, coming out, mental health, social isolation, discrimination or other social factors that could impact on young lives.

Speaking on RTRFM’s All Things Queer program this week, Living Proud Chairperson Lena Van Hale and WAAC CEO Lisa Dobrin explain more about the project.

“Living Proud is one of the oldest LGBTIQ organisations in Australia, and we have a couple of service arms. Part of our service is a training and consultation service where we provide training to organisations, groups, clubs, and that’s called our Opening Closets training,” Van Hale said.

Aside from Opening Closets and this new collaborative service, Living Proud are already at the forefront of LGBTIQ+ mental health support as the Western Australian member of QLife Australia, a national peer-led web chat service for young LGBTIQA+ people can access for suicide prevention support and intervention.

“We’re an organisation that provides a really widespread mental health service to the community through that service, but also we take on LGBTIQ volunteers in that respect, and we remain one of few organisations where LGBTIQ people in the community can come to us to volunteer as a way to give back to the community again.”

WAAC CEO Lisa Dobrin said the two organisations believe that combining their resources will help young LGBTIQ+ people access the most appropriate care for their needs.

“We’re aware that young people find it difficult to access services, particularly young LGBTQI+ young people, and there are limited services and resources in the community outside of the great work that Living Proud do, and that PICYS [Perth Inner City Youth Service] do.”

“We saw that there was a gap and an opportunity for WAAC to use some of its resources to be able to provide a youth-specific counselling service… not wanting to either duplicate, or replicate, or compete with Living Proud, we thought it was a really great opportunity to launch our renewed friendship and our renewed partnership and collaboration as key partners and stakeholders in the LGBTQI+ community, and use both of our strengths and create a continuum of care services.”

Dobrin says new service will help to amplify the strengths of the two organisation’s various support programs, providing access those using Living Proud’s services who may need more clinical support available at WAAC, while WAAC clients may find more appropriate support through Living Proud and QLife’s peer-led initiatives.

Van Hale adds that increasing mental health support services for LGBTIQ+ young people is more important than ever under the cloud of COVID-19.

“The recent public health crisis with COVID-19 has made all of us feel a sense of responsibility to our younger generation and to LGBTIQ+ young people seeking support at this time,” Van Hale said.

“Our community is so affected by isolation, more than just about any other, so thinking about the members of our community who are in these isolated states right now and are having to stay at home throughout COVID-19 has had us really worried, because what isolation looks like for a young LGBTIQ+ person can be even more brutal than it would be for anybody else.”

“For a young person stuck in isolation now, they could be stuck isolating totally in the closet, and be even further from our help, and even further from a community that accepts them than they were before.”

“I think that we have a responsibility as community leaders to young LGBTIQ+ people stepping into the world now, and it’s something that our community does extremely well, we always pull together to combat isolation, and we pull together to help each other through crises like this one.”

Living Proud and WAAC’s Youth Counselling Service is available on (08) 9482 0000. For more on Living Proud and WAAC, head over to their websites.

Leigh Andrew Hill

Do you need some support?

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression, support and counselling are available from:

QLife: 1800 184 527 and

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or

Beyondblue: 1300 22 4636 and

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