Budget funding to help Coast’s LGBTIQ community

The inaugural Coastal Twist festival in 2019

The Coastal Twist festival has welcomed a $2M investment over three years to boost mental health support services for trans and gender diverse communities announced in last Week’s State budget.

The budget also includes $300,000 for empowerment of trans and gender diverse communities.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the funding will be used to expand ACON and Twenty10’s community-led transgender mental health services and enable Equality Australia to support future leaders of trans and gender diverse communities.

Coastal Twist LGBTIQ Festival spokesperson, Juan Iocco said ACON, Equality Australia and Twenty10 all have touch points on the Central Coast.

“(This investment) is a wonderful step forward, not only touching the lives of trans and gender diverse communities but broader Australia as everyone should have the right to access safe, responsive services and when we do, we are all better off as a nation,” he said.

“It is these positive steps forward that will eventually get Central Coast local support on the ground, something not only LGBTIQ adults, youth, and parents across the Coast but the broader population have been crying out for.

“The 7,500 families who showed up with kids, grandparents, friends, and neighbours in tow for the first Coastal Twist Festival (in 2019) highlighted the multigenerational neglect of LGBTIQ communities on the Coast was shifting through sheer people power and community led voices calling for change.”

Iocco said the Central Coast continues to fight for its own identity, with previous investment in the health care of the LGBTIQ community not reflective of a region with the third largest population in the state.

“Our recent Central Coast-based survey highlighted that 18 per cent of LGBTIQ Coasties have been discriminated against when seeking health services,” he said.

“Almost 6 per cent went further to report they do not have regular health checks on the Central Coast because they do not feel safe.

“The overall results from our Survey show that 36 per cent of the Central Coast LGBTIQ community report local based ‘appropriate health care’ as a challenge for people currently expected to go to Newcastle or Sydney or go online for health care.

“This funding is a good thing for the whole country.”

Iocco said the Coastal Twist LGBTIQ Arts and Culture Festival will go ahead this in September/October funded by NSW Government.

See details at www.coastaltwist.org.au.

Of the $2.3M, $1.3M will go to ACON’s new Trans Mental Health and Wellbeing service, providing up to 12 free individual counselling sessions and/or 12 mental health peer work sessions to trans women, trans men and non-binary people seeking mental health support.

Funding of $725,400 will be used to expand Twenty10’s specialist counselling and group support programs to young trans and gender diverse people and their families and carers across NSW.

And $300,000 will support Equality Australia’s community capacity building program to develop leadership in trans and gender diverse communities, empowering them to engage in policy and public discussions on issues that directly impact their lives.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the funding will help the organisation establish a tailored service that will deliver safe, inclusive, and affirming counselling and mental health peer support services to trans people (binary and non-binary).

Twenty10 Co-Executive Directors, Terence Humphreys and Jain Moralee, said the organisation has a long history of supporting young trans and gender diverse people, their families and communities.

“This program will enable us to broaden our much-needed specialist mental health support services for young trans and gender diverse people, focusing on outreach to young people in outer metro and regional NSW,” they said.

Equality Australia Trans Equality project worker, Jackie Turner, said trans and gender diverse people’s lives are frequently the subject of public discussion, but their voices often remain unheard.

“This funding will support trans and gender diverse people to better engage in conversations that directly impact our lives, and will help improve the health and wellbeing of the community by reducing levels of social isolation,” she said.

Terry Collins