WA AIDS Council CEO Lisa Dobrin on free counselling and support

The WA AIDS Council (WAAC) has waived its fees on remote counselling services, improving access to mental health services for LGBTIQ+ folks in a COVID-19 world.

WAAC has also launched an online campaign in conjuction with this initiative, targeting LGBTIQ+ people in rural WA, and raising awareness of their counselling services for people living with HIV, LGBTIQ+ people, and their friends and family.

Speaking to RTRFM’s All Things Queer program, WAAC CEO Lisa Dobrin explained what those seeking help can expect from the sessions.

“It’s about a 60-minute counselling session with a professional tertiary-qualified individual who adopts a client-centred relational style of working, which is a bit more of a gentle approach.”

In a world of isolation and social distancing, Dobrin explains it was important for WAAC to adapt their services and increase accessibility by making counselling available online and over the phone.

“Essentially it provides a safe, free, confidential and private environment for someone to be able to talk about how they feel, what some of their concerns are, some of issues that they might be facing at the moment; whether that’s anxiety or depression, or something around a relationship or a gender issue, or just general sexual health and wellbeing.”

Dobrin added that WAAC are keenly aware that all stages of accessing counselling under the cloud of COVID-19 could add to existing anxieties, which could be remedied in part by removing the payment process.

“COVID has brought heightened anxiety for all of us across the world… our goal was really just to ensure that people could access our services as easily and seamlessly as possible, and we felt that minimising the payment barrier would take another barrier out of a process that can be challenging for people generally.”

Dobrin also addressed those who may be considering seeking mental health or counselling support, but were apprehensive about taking the first step.

“One in five Australians will go through a time in their life when their mental health needs some extra attention. The stats are that only half of those people will take the really overwhelming and difficult step to seek that professional counselling support. We really want to change that. We want people to live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives, and we really want to help them to get there.

“What we want to do is provide an environment for people to feel comfortable, they’re coming to an environment that’s free now. It’s private, it’s confidential, there are people with great skills who are going to help you to be able to take those really difficult steps of accessing the service.”

“If you want to contact us you can do that by phone, you can do that online, you can do that through an email, and you can get someone else in your life – if you’re struggling – to make that contact with us.”

“Whether they’re your partner, your loved one, your family member, they can come with you so we can provide support to them as well as yourself.”

Listen to the full interview here and head over to waaids.com for more information.

Leigh Andrew Hill

Declaration: Leigh is a volunteer presenter/producer at RTRFM 92.1

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