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Mental Health and Wellbeing – LGBTQI+ Tasmanians: Telling Us The Story report

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Mental Health, LGBTI

Dr WOODRUFF - Premier, despite the progress that has been made in Tasmania, LGBTIQ+ people of all ages still report stigma, prejudice, exclusion and discrimination in our communities. Those experiences impact upon their mental health and wellbeing, and that is a core issue that was identified in your Government's LGBTQI+ Tasmanians: Telling Us The Story report. The report notes that mental health care was, without exception, one of - if not the most - prominent point of discussion, an area requiring urgent attention for LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians.

There were a number of recommendations that emphasise the need for comprehensive policy and service responses in the mental health space, including funding for a dedicated mental health service; increasing mental health care services in rural and remote areas; and increasing health care practitioners' knowledge and awareness of the LGBTIQ+ people.

Minister, will you commit to funding the implementations of the recommendations made in the report, and talk about what you are doing now, to address these key mental health issues?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are committed to the health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians, and the Department of Health is progressing key actions to improve health outcomes for the LGBTIQ+ community.

We have an active LGBTIQ+ Reference Group, which includes membership across the department, non government sector and community representatives. The Department of Health is progressing reforms started in 2020 in response to legislative changes to the Justice and Related Legislation (Marriage and Gender Amendments) Act 2019. A dedicated resource within Health ICT is working to modernise our business practices and systems to align with current inclusive best practice.

LGBTIQ+ learning resources for all Department of Health staff were launched in December 2021, and include an online introductory module, a webpage, discussion guide and supporting materials. The resources were developed in collaboration with the LGBTIQ+ community and they are being implemented across the department. Feedback to date is very positive.

Through the department, the Government funds a number of organisations to provide services to the LGBTIQ+ community, and advice on those matters. These include: Working It Out; the Tasmanian Council on AIDS, Hepatitis and Related Diseases Incorporated; and Women's Health Tasmania. Through the Healthy Tasmania Fund round two grants program, Working it Out has also been funded to expand their peer support project, Working It Out Together, which was set up in response to COVID-19.

In addition to national research, the department is informed by Tasmanian data. The recent Tasmanian Government LGBTIQ+ survey report, Tasmanians: Telling Us the Story, will form the basis of the Government's new LGBTIQ+ Strategy. This will support the Department of Health to identify future actions. Research such as Private Lives 3 and Writing Themselves In 4 highlight the need to support mental health and wellbeing for LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians.

In line with reform direction three - reducing stigma, and reform direction seven - responding to the needs of specific population groups of the Rethink 2020 Plan, the department is working with LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians to reduce stigma and to ensure that they can access the mental health support they need, when they need it. The department is working with the LGBTIQ+ community to understand the gaps, the needs and issues within the current mental health system specific to the LGBTIQ+ community. In the 2022-23 state Budget, the Tasmanian Government committed funding of $375 000 over three years to employ LGBTIQ+ peer worker navigators, and the department is also partnering with the LGBTIQ+ community to determine and implement actions that will ensure Tasmania's mental health service system - at all levels - understands and provides care to meet the specific needs of the LGBTIQ+ community. Thank you very much for the question.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you. I have a follow up question about that report. Thank you for those comments. The report also had heartbreaking stories of trans and non-binary people talking about feeling marginalised and unsafe. One finding said that the prejudice towards the trans community is still bad enough to force people to leave the state. Will you again reassure LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians by strongly condemning the rump position of members of the federal Liberal Party, Claire Chandler and the new Leader of the Liberal Party, Peter Dutton, who are still saying hateful and divisive things about trans people, including the proposal for the national curriculum and to go in and be divisive about trans and non-binary people? Will you hold firm on our state's position of promoting inclusion for trans and non-binary people in all areas, including in schools, sports and everywhere?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I would encourage everyone to be respectful, not divisive. I made it very clear the intention as Premier to ensure that all Tasmanians be valued, included, encouraged and supported to be best they can be. My comments regarding the bill you refer to are well known in that sense and I will not change my position on those matters.