We’ve come a long way, politically, in the past few years to support trans-gender diverse and non-binary Australians, but the truth is many still face daily discrimination––socially, economically and unfortunately, in accessing basic human services.
Without a doubt, the most serious of these disadvantages come with the lack of inclusive and gender diversely sensitive healthcare. Sadly, there’s still a great lack of understanding in how to communicate and support the trans, gender diverse and non-binary community in the health services, making an otherwise accessible service difficult to face and as a result, many suffer through poor health and poor mental health when they shouldn’t.
Which is why the launch of the new service at Preston’s Your Community Health just a few weeks ago is so huge. Along with Ballarat Community Health, and with support of the state government, the Preston clinic intends to address gaps in current health and wellbeing services with a mission to provide safe and inclusive, gender-affirming medical services and counselling for trans, gender diverse and non-binary people.
It’s only the beginning for the new inclusive health care infrastructure proposed by the Victorian Government, but the two centres are setting a great precedent already for the longer-term project.
In 2015 the Victorian Government established the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse and Intersex (LGBTI) Taskforce to advise the Minister for Equality to identify government priorities––including, but not limited to Healthcare––and to ensure policy, programs and services are inclusive of LGBTI communities.
From here, a survey was conducted, an advisory group established (Trans Expert Advisory Group) and a number of reports have been produced. Based on those reports, in 2017, a new state-wide service model for the delivery of health and support services for LGBTI people in Victoria began development––the Gender Diverse Service System Development Project––part of the over-arching State-wide Design, Service and Infrastructure Plan for Victoria’s Health System 2017–2037.
It’s a long game for our community, but the ball is rolling, and hopefully, that affirms our LBGTI community and pushes them to access the health services they are entitled to with confidence that they’re met with sensitivity around their gender diversity. Equal and inclusive care should be a major focus in our health services, and with pilot projects like what is happening in Preston and Ballarat launching, we can only hope others follow suit.
At the launch, Jenny Mikakos MP, the Victorian Minister of Health, instilled further confidence in the growing movement toward inclusive care delivered in a pragmatic sentiment during her presentation;
“We have the knowledge skills and ability to make sure everyone has access to safe and inclusive services.”
And that’s the bottom line. Every human has the right to health care and we need to assure all our government services are accessible and safe to all citizens, across the board.
In another presentation on the day, Dr Clare Hedland, an active participant in the establishment of this initiative summed it up in a few honest, but hard-hitting words, when she said,
“What we are doing here is not just making another multidisciplinary clinic, we are really saving lives”.