The Northern Territory Primary Health Network (PHN) is taking proactive steps to ensure the LGBTQI+ community has access to inclusive health services.
Contracted by the NT PHN, active member of the community and health researcher, Jenne Roberts said Katherine’s LGBTQI+ community is having to travel to Darwin to access inclusive services.
Despite being expensive and inconvenient, many people make that trip.
“This really highlights the fact that Katherine needs more services,” Ms Roberts said.
“Katherine already has a few counsellors in town, but if they had more support and confidence in a range of fields the services would become much more accessible and inclusive.”
In Katherine until September, Ms Roberts is conducting a LGBTQI+ Health Needs Assessment in the Territory.
She said the NT PHN is taking proactive steps to establish and respond to the needs of the LGBTQI+ community as well as Brotherboys and Sistergirls in Indigenous communities.
Through literature reviews and face to face consultations, the assessment is finding the LGBTQI+ community is at a greater risk of anxiety, depression and suicide.
It is also finding people are missing out on basic care and early intervention.
There is no where that has done quite as extensive work on LGBTQI+ community needs as what they have done in the NT.- Jenne Roberts
“We need this Health Needs Assessment to make sure there are appropriate and timely service providers operating on the ground,” Mr Roberts said.
“With out it, people are missing out on basic care, which means they present later with more complex issues.
“This costs the system and also reduces people’s quality of life,” she said.
In 2016 a Primary Health Care Needs Assessment identified there was little data in relation to the health needs of the LGBTQI+ community.
Ms Roberts said without further knowledge about the community’s health needs, commissioning appropriate response services was difficult.
“In 2017 the NT PHN looked closely at the urgent needs of people seeking transgender services in the Top End.
“As a result of that work, the Northside Health LGBTQI+ clinic in Darwin was funded, which is used by people in Katherine right across to Kununurra,” she said.
Through meetings with community members, Ms Roberts is hoping to dig deep into LGBTQI+ health needs.
“We hope to find out what people think the best entry points to care really are, what that first point of contact should be,” she said.
“If we can get that right we can refer people to the right service.”
The findings will assist in establishing funding for what is most needed.
Despite the obvious need for more inclusive services across the Territory, Ms Roberts said the, “NT is in a really progressive stage”.
“We are talking more openly and families in the NT are responding positively,” she said.
“We have more people reaching out for services, mums reaching out to services to support their child questioning their gender and dads looking to find more information about how to talk to their gay sons.”
People are invited to have their say on the LGBTQI+ Brotherboy and Sistergirl communities in the NT.
The Health Needs Assessment includes consultation with people who identify with LGBTQI+ as well as service providers and community groups, to understand the specific health needs of community members.
To participate head to ntphn.org.au/forms/needs-assessment-eoi
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