NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy

NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy

(Question Time, 21 June 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

My question is directed to the Minister for Health. How is the New South Wales Government supporting the health and wellbeing of the LGBTIQ+ community?


Mr BRAD HAZZARD (Minister for Health): I thank the member for Sydney for his question. I also thank him for the work that he does in the broader Sydney community, in particular the additional work that he has done with the Government—and I am sure he would also be working with the Opposition on something as inclusive as this. The LGBTIQ+ community in New South Wales is a major part of our community. As the Premier just said, our Government intends to be, and continues to be, an inclusive government, a government that cares about everybody and makes sure that everybody has a fair go. Just a few weeks ago the member for Sydney and I attended the Garvan Institute for the launch of the NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy. For the interest of members, this is only the third such policy ever in Australia's history—one other State, one other Territory and now New South Wales has, under this Coalition Government, the NSW LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy.

The meeting was chaired by Associate Professor Schembri from St Vincent's Hospital. A lady called Robyn Kennedy spoke. She was one of the 78ers. Robyn told the gathering about the changes that have occurred since 1978, but also indicated the challenges if one fits within the LGBTIQ+ community category. She spoke a lot about people not understanding the particular challenges that the community has. Not everybody in the community has challenges, but a lot of people do. Many of those issues are considered in this policy document, which was developed after consultation by NSW Health with more than 1,600 people from the LQBTIQ+ community. It also involved over 750 NSW Health staff and community organisations. It was an incredible effort to make sure that the voices, the hearts, the minds and the souls of people who are LGBTIQ+ were able to be heard in development of this particular policy. Overall, what it highlights is that people in that community experience poorer health outcomes than the general population. They suffer mental and emotional distress. It is a prevailing issue often with persistent exposure to stigma, discrimination and social isolation. [Extension of time]

They also face experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and harmful patterns of alcohol and other drug use as a consequence of those prejudices that have existed in our society. This strategy has four main components. It aims to deliver high quality, safe, inclusive and responsive care. It aims to give—this is a particularly important aspect—additional education and training to the entire NSW Health workforce. One of the issues that Robyn Kennedy made out to our gathering was that quite often people who are from this community are challenged in the information they have to give to medical practitioners or clinicians and often have to repeat it time and time again. She also talked about assumptions—for example, in her case, "What is your husband's name?" Well, no. She does not have a husband. She has a particular partner, but she does not have a husband.

Those assumptions are aspects that require education for our health staff to make people in this community a lot more able to deal with these everyday health issues. The strategy also aims to increase access for LGBTIQ+ people to mental health and suicide prevention services. That is a really big issue in this community. I indicate to the honourable member and give him this assurance. He knows we launched the strategy and I believe he is very supportive of the strategy. Everybody who has to do with the strategy is very supportive of this first strategy delivered by—I am very proud to say—a New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government. It is the first LGBTIQ+ Health Strategy in the State's history. But what we are now aiming to do is to work further. We are looking at further announcements as we work with Health, particularly around mental health issues. We are hopeful that we might be able to make some of those announcements in the next few days or couple of weeks. I will be happily sharing that with the LGBTIQ+ and broader communities.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!