A new support service has arrived for LGBTIQA+ people in Geelong

A new support service has arrived for LGBTIQA+ people in Geelong

Photo by Queerspace

This new service will ensure that all LGBTIQA+ Victorians and their families, no matter where they live, can access safe and inclusive counselling to support their mental health.

Queerspace has arrived in Geelong, providing low or no-cost confidential counselling services to LGBTIQ+ community and their families in the Geelong and Greater Geelong region.

Supported by the Andrews Labor Government, this local support service is part of a new state-wide counselling service called Qspace, which will provide specialist family counselling, assistance, online resources and information for LGBTIQ+ Victorians and their families to help foster support and understanding.

LGBTIQ+ Victorians are a diverse community and they continue to face stigma and discrimination in their day to day lives, leading to higher risks of poor mental health, suicidal thoughts, homelessness, substance abuse and intimate partner and family violence. The aim of the Qspace program is to keep families together and make sure LGBTIQ+ Victorians feel safe and valued – a basic human right.

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The new service will leverage from Queerspace − Drummond Street Services’ existing Melbourne-based LGBTIQ+ health and wellbeing support service – and be available not only in Geelong, but other regional and rural community partners including Anglicare Victoria (Gippsland and Kyneton), Mallee Family Care (Mildura) and Upper Murray Family Care (Wodonga). Drummond Street Services has long advocated for the need for additional support for LGBTIQA+ people to feel safe, affirmed and connected by both their families and within their local communities.

“It is well-known and accepted that the rates of LGBTIQA+ people with poorer mental health continues to be alarmingly high, often linked to experiences of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, with so many systems and services failing to respond quickly or recognise the unique experiences of LGBTIQA+ people,” says Karen Field, CEO of Drummond Street Services & queerspace.

“Furthermore, emerging from Covid19’s 2020 lockdown we have also seen the mental health impacts on many LGBTIQA+ people escalate. This is confirmed by our recent research report, ‘There’s no safe place at home: Domestic & Family Violence affecting LGBTIQA+ people (2020), which shows there must be continued investment for both specialised services who have the expertise and knowledge, as well as supporting ‘mainstream’ local services focused engagement for local LGBTIA+ people and families.

“The establishment of this Qspace network means that no matter where someone is seeking support, they know it is safe and inclusive. Demand for this type of family-focused support remains high, the Qspace network is an important contribution in providing more safe supportive spaces, sharing knowledge and local connections.”

Services at Geelong new Queerspace will include counselling (including individual, relationship and family counselling), case management, advocacy and support services to help you with a range of issues; access to ‘The Village’ – a seven-week program for parents and caregivers of trans-gender diverse and gender questioning young people; Professional development, training, consulting and support for organisations who work with, or provide education or support services for, LGBTIQ+ people and their families; Secondary case consultations; and community events.

“I’ve always fought hard for equality. And while we’ve made a lot of progress, there’s a lot more to be done,” says Christine Couzens MP.

“We know the stigma and discrimination LGBTIQ+ people face really takes a toll on mental health. That’s why we’re launching a new support service in Geelong called Qspace, in partnership with Drummond Street. It’ll provide specialist family counselling, assistance, online resources and information for LGBTIQ+ people. And it’ll help keep families together and make sure our local LGBTIQ+ community feel safe and valued.”

All their services are operating via Telehealth and Zoom until the Geelong office is up and running. To access services please call 9663 6733 or email enquiries@ds.org.au

You can read more about the announcement here.

If you are part of the LGBTQIA+ community and need further support, there are other services available:

Switchboard offer free and anonymous counselling, resources and referrals. 1800 184 527 (3pm – midnight, 7 days per week).

ZBGC offers online support, Q&A and information regarding sexuality and gender diversity.

If you feel distressed, please contact  Lifeline on 13 11 14. In the case of an emergency, please contact 000.