NSW to fund ACON Health Centre under LGBTI Health Strategy

LGBTQ+ health and support service ACON and independent MP Alex Greenwich have welcomed $4.2million in funding for a new LGBTQ+ focused health centre.

The ACON Health Centre will deliver care specifically for LGBTQ+ people across a wide range of health issues across NSW. The centre is designed to be an inclusive, person-centred, integrated and community-driven health service for sexuality and gender diverse people in NSW to respond directly to the health and wellbeing needs of LGBTQ+ communities.

The Centre will provide primary care and GP services alongside specialist services such as mental health, sexual health and HIV, gender affirming healthcare, alcohol and other drug support, cancer screening and other services for sexuality and gender diverse people.

LGBTQ+ communities are more likely to experience disparities in health service provision, including delays to accessing health care, an absence or lack of visibility in research and data collection and significantly disproportionate health outcomes.

Nicolas Parkhill AM, ACON’s Chief Executive Officer, said this is a milestone step forward for our communities and their health.

“The Strategy’s aim to improve the provision of care for LGBTIQ+ people is a critical step towards improving our communities’ health and wellbeing into the future.”

“We are particularly grateful of the support being offered to establish the Health Centre. This, along with the Strategy, will help develop more specific health capacity that will better address the needs of our communities,” Parkhill said.

“ACON’s Health Centre will deliver integrated care specifically designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ people, across a wide range of health services, accessible state-wide.” Karen Price, ACON’s Deputy CEO and project lead, adds.

“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. We will provide access to a wide range of services including primary care, gender affirming health care, mental health support, drug and alcohol interventions, some specific cancer screening services and more – all in the same service and with peer support.”

“In addition, we want to amplify data collection and research efforts to better understand the health issues and effective interventions for members of our communities. In generating this new evidence and local expertise, we will be partnering with key researchers and research centres to strive toward reduced health inequalities into the future”.

ACON President Justin Koonin adds that “to have the NSW Government recognise the health needs of our communities, then work alongside us to deliver the first NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy to address these issues is a significant development.

“The work to ensure NSW Health is better placed to deliver informed and effective healthcare for our communities is no small undertaking, and will require significant commitment over the life of the Strategy. The Strategy sets out an excellent plan for work that needs to be done to address some of the health inequities LGBTQ people face.

“ACON would particularly thank and acknowledge the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet MP, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, as well as Independent Member for Sydney, Alex Greenwich. We are deeply grateful for their tremendous support for both the Health Centre and its funding,” Koonin said.

“ACON looks forward to working with the NSW Government, NSW Health, health organisations, research bodies and community partners on both the implementation of the Strategy and the establishment of the ACON Health Centre.”

Independent member for Sydney Alex Greenwich says the NSW Government’s LGBTI Health Strategy gives our state a measurable, whole-of-government plan to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ people and demonstrates the need for removing all remaining discrimination from state law.

“This is a wide-ranging strategy and implementation plan that can materially improve the lives of thousands of LGBTIQ+ living in our state,” Greenwich said.

“This plan will see the government working proactively to address inequity and modernise health practices in our state.”

“The report shows we must urgently increase health support available to LGBTIQ+ communities, including mental health services, to make sure specialised care is available and no one slips through the cracks.”

“I also welcome this report’s focus on the needs of our transgender and intersex communities, who continue to face severe discrimination when accessing health services.”

During the 2019 state election Greenwich was part of securing the NSW Government’s commitment to developing the strategy and funding a specialist health centre led by ACON, an established LGBTIQ+ and HIV health organisation.

“The government’s investment of $4.2 million for an ACON Health Centre as part of this strategy is a critical step that will certainly help provide specialised care for LGBTIQ+ communities across NSW,”  Greenwich continued.

“However, the report also flags the clear need for legislative change to remove discriminatory barriers that are impacting on LGBTIQ+ people’s health and wellbeing.”

“A range of legislative reforms are needed including to stop so-called ‘normalising’ surgeries on intersex people without personal consent and to remove barriers that require people who are trans and gender diverse to undergo surgery to legally affirm their gender.”

“I will be bringing these issues to my colleagues in parliament so we can work towards reform.”

“I look forward to working with the government as it implements this health strategy. It’s now the job of parliament to ensure all people are equal and respected under our state’s laws.”

OIP Staff

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