New report: Government inaction puts young lives at risk

The South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) welcomes the release today of Writing Themselves in 4, a nationwide study of the real-life health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ+ young people.

According to SARAA’s Policy & Project Officer, Kelly Vincent, the report paints a grim picture of the reality of LGBTIQ+ lives in South Australia, as seen in the SA-specific summary.

“While young people are coming out to their peers as LGBTIQ+ at high rates (96.0%), they continue to experience fear and discrimination,” said Mx Vincent, “More than half of participants in high school felt unsafe or uncomfortable due to their sexuality or, gender identity in the past 12 months. School and university are challenging enough for young people without facing discrimination for who they are.”

Even more alarming is the fact that 59.2% of all report respondents and almost 62.3% aged 16-17 years had experienced suicidal ideation in the past 12 months, more than five times higher than non-LGBTIQ+ people in this age group.

However, Mx Vincent points out that it is important to look at the root causes of this tragic statistic. “Harassment and bullying of LGBTIQ+ people in education settings remains common,” they said, “and young people continue to be forced into homelessness due to their identities, with 11% saying they’ve been homeless in the past year.”

SARAA commends LaTrobe University on the report and calls on State and Federal Governments to implement its recommendations immediately. These include:
– Establishing and promoting LGBTQA+ anti-bullying policies, supporting affirmation and facilitating a sense of safety at school, TAFE or university.
– Addressing stigma and violence directed towards LGBTQA+ communities. Experiences of poor mental health within this group must always be understood within a context of prevailing homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and other forms of stigma that are embedded in many parts of society.
– Providing inclusive, culturally safe mental health services; facilitating access to specialist mental health services, such as those provided by LGBTQA+ community-controlled organisations.
– Addressing homelessness through holistic, multicomponent programs that recognise the numerous factors contributing to this experience within the community
– Facilitating access to trans and gender diverse healthcare

Mx Vincent said the recommendation about gender diverse healthcare is particularly pertinent.

“SARAA has written to State Health Minister Stephen Wade several times, calling for the establishment of a lifesaving LGBTIQ+-specific healthcare centre,” they said, “most recently in December 2020. We have not received a response.

At a time when ideological debates run rife and evidence-based programs to support LGBTIQ+ young people are being defunded, it is vital that the Government heed these recommendations and promote inclusion, respect, and safety to prevent further suffering and even loss of young lives,” said Mx Vincent, “SARAA will keep working to create this safer, more inclusive world.”

Read the full South Australia summary report here: https://www.latrobe.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/1198969/Writing-Themselves-In-4-SA-report.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1Y56Glh1vEvBKuVzMh3MoldFZL8DVJisk2OA-c6wsy3P5-_zn910OSFdE

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