LGBTI Health Alliance Press Release


In response to media inquiries last week, the National LGBTI Health Alliance (the Alliance), confirmed it was not successful in its application for ongoing ‘Peak Health and Advisory Body program’ funding, with Government funds for this activity ceasing from December 2015.

The final decision, received from the Department of Health late on Tuesday 2 February, is the final outcome of the confidential review process initiated by the Alliance upon receiving information from the Department in December 2015.

In planning for the organisations 2015/16 budget, the Alliance directed organisational funds to make up the shortfall to continue activities throughout the financial year to June 2016. This commitment by the organisation will ensure these important staff roles and functions will have the opportunity to continue.

Future decisions beyond June will be made by the organisation as part of its usual budget planning process for 2016/17. It will also provide opportunities for the Alliance to seek alternative funding from any future grant rounds from the Department of Health’s Flexible Funds or other sources to ensure this important work in the national policy health space continues.

Susan Ditter Chair of the Alliance said that while the impact of the decision won’t be felt until June 2016, the lack of funding to work in emerging policy areas, beyond those the Alliance had specific funding for was concerning.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Alliance, as the only national health organisation working across a range of LGBTI health issues, will no longer be funded to provide policy advice to Government about emerging issues affecting LGBTI Australians. We are proud of the work we have been able to do working with Government in a range of areas such as ensuring equitable outcomes for trans men accessing testosterone, improved data collection standards on sex or gender, advising on the implementation of Government services and in the numerous individual responses we have provided to Government agencies as they prepare to work with LGBTI populations within their portfolio.

Without this grant or alternative funding from July 2016, we will have to narrow our policy focus to those project areas we are funded to deliver such as mental health and aged care, leaving a significant vacuum in the national policy discussion in the lead up to the Federal election.

While we are disappointed that the funding has not been renewed, we would like to thank Government for the original funding and look forward to working with them on future opportunities to continue this important work. In particular, may I congratulate our members and staff for the work they delivered and will continue to deliver over the next few months in this area.”

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Below are a few case studies of the achievements of the Alliance in the area that will be defunded in July 2016.

The Alliance helps deliver better Government policy

The Alliance has been a reputable source of expert advice for many Government departments and agencies, and contributed to the development of policies that are more inclusive of the needs of LGBTI people.

The Alliance has also been able to work with key populations to communicate and explain policy decisions.

Chair of the Alliance Susan Ditter recounts a recent example when raising of urgent concerns with The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health on proposed restrictions to testosterone prescribing. This resulted in the Minister directing the PBS to work with the Alliance, and a meeting between key Alliance staff and the PBS Executive to appropriately reword the schedules to ensure that trans men and others had improved access to testosterone.

The Alliance creates an environment for services to become inclusive

The Alliance creates an environment where inclusive services are extended to members of our communities and populations.

For example, we engaged with the Medical Benefits Division (who administer the MBS), to ensure that several sets of changes were made to remove gender-specific language from MBS item codes. Collectively, these ground breaking changes mark a beneficial shift toward more inclusive national health care coverage for many Australians, including people with intersex variations, women of trans experience, and people who identify as neither or both male or female.

The Alliance has identified solutions that enable LGBTI people to be able to get on with their lives

An example of this is the Genders, Bodies and Relationships Passport. We developed the Passport based on requests and feedback from people and organisations. People told us about the situations that they faced when important aspects of their genders and bodies were not understood and included in their care. Organisations told us that they found it difficult to know how to ask about sensitive information in ways that were respectful and inclusive. They were seeking a better way to meet people’s needs. This feedback highlighted the need for a multipurpose and user-friendly tool. We designed this tool to help people to get quality care, and to help organisations to achieve inclusive practice.

The Alliance will continue to work with, alongside and for the communities and populations represented under the LGBTI umbrella and to ensure that wherever possible that our specific health needs are understood and appropriately translated into practice.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)