The Victorian Pride Lobby has welcomed this year’s state budget, calling it a step in the right direction for LGBTIQA+ communities, but highlighted areas that have been overlooked.
The 2022/23 budget has a strong focus on celebrating LGBTIQA+ communities across the state, with the funding announcement of $7.4 million over four years for events and festivals making up just over half of the entire budget allocated to LGBTIQA+ Victorians.
The Lobby said it was “incredibly pleased” to see $1.6 million to support a new specialist LGBTIQA+ legal service, which will have its home in the Victorian Pride Centre.
“This announcement responds to the significant and unmet demand for legal service provision in [LGBTIQA+] communities,” said Nevena Spirovska, Lobby Co-Convener.
“We’re especially pleased to see the Government recognise the importance of directly funding [an LGBTIQA+] community-controlled organisation.”
The Lobby has also welcomed the trial of ‘Safe Spaces’ in Western Victoria as an opportunity to provide support for young LGBTIQA+ people in their own communities, as well as $1 million allocated for capacity-building of LGBTIQA+ organisations.
However, LGBTIQA+ health and mental health were “dramatically overlooked” in this budget.
No additional funding has been allocated to LGBTIQA+ community-controlled health service providers, despite the Government’s strategy listing equitable, inclusive, and accessible services as its second priority area.
The Lobby said that LGBTIQA+ people frequently report delays in seeking healthcare and experience stigma, discrimination, and perceived or actual threats to their safety when accessing mainstream health services.
LGBTIQA+ community-controlled services often have years-long waiting lists and are primarily located in metropolitan areas.
“The health, wellbeing, and mental health of [LGBTIQA+] people has been at crisis levels for decades, with little sign of improvement,” said Spirovska.
“For this budget to be truly inclusive and equitable, it must respond to the critical health and mental health needs of [LGBTIQA+] Victorians by properly investing in [LGBTIQA+] community-controlled health services in future budgets.
“There is an opportunity for the Government to make an immensely positive impact in the lives of LGBTIQ+ Victorians.”