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Thursday, April 15, 2021

ACT sees ‘significant’ increased demand for LGBTIQA+ support services

There has been a significant increase in demand for LGBTIQA+ support services in the ACT, according to local support organisation, Meridian.

Meridian CEO Philippa Moss said the organisation has been managing an increase in demand for around two to 2.5 years.

This includes a 272% increase in clients who identify or are exploring identity options as trans, gender diverse and/or non-binary, which, according to Ms Moss, is a “really super significant” statistic.

As well, the organisation has seen an increase in counselling need from clients who “tentatively identify as men who have sex with men with the intersection of a culturally and linguistically diverse identity”.

Demand has also increased for people who identify with a pattern of risky substance abuse behaviour.

“I think it’s a range of things that have been impacting the LGBTIQA+ community, [the increase in demand] would probably have started around the marriage equality debate,” Ms Moss said.

“We’ve had lots of public debates; that really impacts people … and then the sort of natural disasters stuff and COVID.”

Canberrans celebrate the ‘Yes’ vote in Haig Park in 2017. Meridian CEO Philippa Moss says the organisation has seen an increase in demand for their service since the marriage equality plebiscite. Photo: Michael Masters/Getty.

Similarly, data from LGBTIQA+ peer support organisation QLife, prepared for ANZ’s Mardi Gras campaign, shows a 65% increase in demand for support from the ACT, the second highest in the country behind Tasmania.

Nationally, the organisation reported a 58% increase in the volume of calls and enquiries in the second half of 2020, with a more than 70% increase from people under 18.

Ms Moss said while the spike from the ACT could be attributed to increased visibility for QLife and its services, there is certainly a need for more support for people in the ACT.

“There is absolutely no doubt that we need increased funding to service the demand that we’re seeing and the increased demand that we’re seeing, and that’s something that we’re advocating and lobbying for with government and trying to fundraise,” she said.

“Canberra’s a really progressive place in many ways, and the government do really good things … but the people who are marginalised and on the edge kind of sometimes get hidden in all that ‘glossy stuff’.”

If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or QLife on 1800 184 527. Visit meridianact.org.au for more information on the organisation’s LGBTIQA+ support services.

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