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Victoria announces $14.7 million funding to LGBTIQ+ community

 

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Victoria announced $14.7 million dollars worth of funding to support LGBTIQ+ Victorians this week. The funding announcement was made as part of the state’s 2022/23 budget.

Announcing the new funding Equality Minister Martin Foley outlined that the investment would support Victoria’s first whole-of-government, 10-year LGBTIQ+ strategy, Pride in our Future, which is designed to drive work to change laws and policies, strengthen state-based services and support LGBTIQ+ organisations and events to drive meaningful change over the next decade.

A new specialist LGBTIQ+ legal service will receive $1.6 million of the funding. Based in the Victorian Pride Centre, the service will provide legal advice and representation for LGBTIQ+ people that’s tailored to their needs – recognising many people still face higher levels of discrimination.

Funding of $6.8 million over four years will deliver annual statewide events that give Victorians the opportunity to celebrate LGBTIQ+ communities.

Community-led events will also be supported through a $625,000 investment in the flagship Pride Events and Festivals Fund, building on the success of the inaugural Melbourne Pride, which ran across the 2021/22 summer to mark more than 40 years since the decriminalisation of sex between men in Victoria.

Young LGBTIQ+ Victorians will receive additional support with $3.2 million going towards a trial of several safe spaces for LGBTIQ+ young people in western Victoria – providing access to targeted mental health and wellbeing support close to home.

The Andrews government pledged to also keep supporting the health and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse Victorians, with $1.5 million to be invested in the Trans and Gender Diverse in Community Health Program – ensuring trans and gender diverse communities continue to access the services and support they need.

A further $1 million will go towards grants that build the capacity of LGBTIQ+ organisations and a program that supports emerging LGBTIQ+ leaders to develop their skills and networks.

This funding builds on our initial $6.5 million investment to kickstart delivery of Pride in our Future, including training to make organisations safer and more inclusive, health and wellbeing support for people with an intersex variation and continuing peer support for trans and gender diverse Victorians.

“We’ve always said that in Victoria, equality is not negotiable – because every Victorian, without exception, deserves to feel safe, supported and equal.” Foley said.

“We’re investing in the tailored services LGBTIQ+ Victorians need, and the Victorians we need to deliver them – and we’ll keep supporting and celebrating our rainbow communities for generations to come.”

The Victorian Pride Lobby welcomed the budget announcement, saying that it’s a step in the right direction for Victorian LGBTIQ+ communities, and will provide further opportunities to work toward improving the unequal social and mental health outcomes experienced by LGBTIQ+ Victorians.

The lobby group said the government had fallen short though when it came to providing specific mental health support services for the LGBTIQ+ communities.

“The Lobby was incredibly pleased to see $1.6 million to support a new specialist LGBTIQ+ legal service, which will have its home in the Victorian Pride Centre.” Co-Convener of the Victorian Pride Lobby Nevena Spirovska said, “This announcement responds to the significant and unmet demand for legal service provision in LGBTIQ+ communities. We’re especially pleased to see the Government recognise the importance of directly funding a LGBTIQ+ community-controlled organisation.”

The Lobby also welcomed the trial of ‘Safe Spaces’ in Western Victoria as an opportunity to provide support for young LGBTIQ+ people in their own communities as well as an additional $1 million allocated for capacity building of LGBTIQ+ organisations.

There was concern though that health and mental health were dramatically overlooked in the budget. With the group highlighting that the government’s ‘Pride in Our Future, Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ Strategy’ lists equitable, inclusive, and accessible services as its second priority area, but no additional funding has been allocated to LGBTIQ+ community-controlled health service providers.

“LGBTIQ+ people frequently report delays seeking healthcare and experience stigma, discrimination and perceived or actual threats to their safety when accessing mainstream health services. LGBTIQ+ community-controlled services often have years-long waiting lists and are primarily located in metropolitan areas.” the Pride Lobby said in their statement.

The funding for the legal service was welcomed by the Pride Community Legal Centre.

Janet Jukes, Chair of the organisation said the government had acknolwedged the scale of discimination still faced by people in the LGBTIQ communities.

“This is a very welcome funding announcement that will support thousands of sex, sexuality, and gender diverse members of the LGBTIQ community experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination with access to information and legal support so that they can meaningfully exercise their legal rights.”

“This Budget investment is significant and acknowledges the scale of discrimination and legal need that LGBTIQ people experience, including higher levels of verbal and physical abuse and sexual assault, and unacceptably high levels of discrimination in schools and workplaces, and in the community when accessing services.”

“We know that many members of the sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities find it difficult to access support and services to address their legal needs. This new community legal service will help to break down barriers so that the improvements in the laws and legal processes can become accessible to all.” Jukes said.

OIP Staff


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