Health and wellbeing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex [LGBTI] people and
sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people, and communities throughout Australia
- Acknowledgements and Terminology
- About the Alliance
- Message from the Board Chair & Executive Director
- Where we came from
- Who we are
- The way we work
- What we’ve achieved
- Our Priorities
- Why we want to be working on these things
- How will we know where we got? Accountability to members and stakeholders
Acknowledgements and Terminology
Acknowledgement of Country
The National LGBTI Health Alliance (The Alliance) acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia, their diversity, histories and knowledge and their continuing connections to land and community. We pay our respects to all Australian Indigenous people and their cultures, and to elders of past, present and future generations.
Honouring our LGBTI elders
We honour our elders and allies in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, brotherboy , sistergirl, and intersex populations. Their work and struggles against injustice as individuals and as communities has left scars that for some people, have healed and for others they have not. This reality will continue to be reflected in our work.
The Alliance gratefully acknowledges support for its funding from the Australian Departments of Health and Social Services.
Alliance Board, Staff and Stakeholders
The Alliance gratefully acknowledges its members, Board of Directors, staff and stakeholders who willingly gave of their time to participate in the development of this Plan.
The Alliance (also referred to as ‘We’ in this document) use the acronym ‘LGBTI’ to refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex people and communities. We recognise the important historical and legislative role that this acronym has to play. Acknowledging the limitations of ‘LGBTI’, we also affirm that the diversity of human bodies, genders, sexualities, relationships, and identities is far broader than any acronym can encompass. We also acknowledge that the intersection of cultural identity, including indigenous identity, and body, gender, sexuality and relationship identities results in self determined terminology not encompassed in the LGBTI acronym. The Alliance supports the health and wellbeing of people from this broader diversity, while honouring our origins and social contexts.
Definition of Health
The definition of health used in this Strategic Plan is taken from the World Health Organisation. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19 June – 22 July 1946.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance Board of Directors approved this 2016 – 2020 Strategic Plan on 23 February 2016.
About the Alliance
The Alliance is a member based organisation that serves as the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research for and about LGBTI people, families and communities. The Alliance is governed by a Board of Directors from the states and territories of Australia providing core skills that the Board deems necessary to advance the strategic goals of the Alliance as outlined in this plan.
The Alliance has almost 300 members comprised of:
- Full member organisations – who vary in size and scope, ranging from entirely voluntary local organisations to statewide and national bodies that receive government funding for specific activities. The key feature of this category is that the majority of the work of these organisations is focused on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, families and communities.
- Corporate member organisations – which demonstrate they have a major project, activity or service targeted at the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, families and communities.
- Individual members – come from a wide range of backgrounds including involvement in community groups, professional involvement in LGBTI health, and academic research and writing of relevance to LGBTI people’s health and wellbeing.
Alliance members are asked to agree to a social and human rights framework and accept the following principles:
- empower health consumers to control their own health needs
- support self-determination
- genuinely engage stakeholders
- affirm bodies, genders and relationships in all of their diversity through respectful inclusive language and bodily autonomy
A full list of member organisations is available on our website at www.lgbtihealth.org.au/members
Message from the Board Chair and Executive Director
We are proud to present the National LGBTI Health Alliance’s’ 2020 Strategic Plan.
The 2020 Strategic Plan was developed following an active process of listening to the views and priorities of our members, stakeholders, partners, Board and staff.
In shaping the 2020 Strategic Plan, we consciously sought to establish our values, our mission and a bold vision for our future. The Plan honours the work that has happened by and with our members and partners, and ensures that as an Alliance, our work is strengthened through the acknowledgment of our collective learning. It is designed to allow us to rise to the challenges of the future, such as changing demographics of the populations we work with, the changing nature of funding and policy environments, and the expectations of the members we represent.
The success of the 2020 Strategic Plan depends on our ability to continue to work in partnership with our members and stakeholders and to extend our knowledge into areas of ongoing challenge and new opportunity. We are an Alliance, and it is through our diversity, that we find our greatest opportunities for success.
The 2020 Strategic Plan builds on the success of the 2015 Strategic Plan and we are proud of what has been achieved to date. Key successes include: building Q Life – our nationally coordinated telephone information, counselling and referral telephone and online service; Mindout our national suicide prevention program; Silver Rainbow our national policy development and training program for aged care workers; and numerous policy and legislative changes.
Thank you to the Alliance members, Board, staff and many stakeholders who willingly gave up their time to participate in the development of the 2020 Strategic Plan. It has created a plan that we can use together and that will take us into the future.
We are confident that the 2020 Strategic Plan provides us with a blueprint for delivering on our vision and working towards a world where relationships, sexualities, bodies, and genders are affirmed and valued in all their diversity.
Susan Ditter – Chair
Rebecca Reynolds – Executive Director
Where we came from
The first national LGBTI health conference ‘Health in Difference’ was held in 1996. The conference reflected a growing awareness by community groups, individuals, policy-makers, health practitioners and academics of the range of health and wellbeing concerns faced by LGBTI people. The seventh iteration of that conference held in 1997, put forward the recommendation of the formation of a national organisation concerned about LGBTI health.
The Alliance, when formed was one of the first organisations of its kind in the world. Formally launched at Australia’s Parliament House in 2007, the founding members of the Alliance were committed to working more broadly on LGBTI health and wellbeing than the largely HIV focus that they had in the past. As organisations working specifically in States and Territories across Australia, they saw the need for a national organisation that could bring together the skills and expertise of the different organisations to create national collaborations, and to influence National policy.
2008 saw a tremendous amount of work put into establishing the legal, organisational and personnel structures needed to establish and independent, national, member-based organisation and this work led to the adoption of a constitution, a Board of Directors and the legal status of a not for profit public company.
The formalisation of this structure, enabled the Alliance in 2009, to open its membership base and to invite membership from other Government and non-Government organisations, not-for-profit and corporates supporters, and from individuals working in LGBTI health and across broader LGBTI issues. The ability for other entities to demonstrate support and to formalise collaborations enhanced the ability of the Alliance to strategically work to pursue its objectives.
This broadening of the membership base was complemented by the establishment of a small national office in Sydney which enabled a small staff team to be based from to work on national collaboration and project activities. This included the coordination of the 2010 Health in Difference conference, held in Sydney, which was the first to be run under the auspice of the Alliance.
The value of national collaboration was recognised by the Department of Health and Ageing in 2011, when the Alliance received one-year funding to maintain a national secretariat. This enabled the Alliance to create an online presence in the form of a website and to provide staffing support to national policy engagement around a diverse range of issues of importance to the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.
Funding was received later that same year, to commence a two year mental health and suicide prevention project named MindOUT.
2012 saw the Alliance undertake significant work in the areas of Ageing and Aged care, and in collaboration with the Australian Government developed a project which led to the enactment of the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Ageing and Aged Care Strategy and the corresponding launch of the national ageing and aged care training project named Silver Rainbow.
Through the work of the MindOUT project, and with a national secretariat in existence, an opportunity was created for collaboration between the state-based phone counselling services to come together to provide a national phone and web based counselling service. Building on the history of the services, QLife National Phone and Web Chat service was developed and funding commenced for the project in 2013.
2013 saw the Alliance host the 9th Health in Difference conference in Melbourne, and the growth of the conference into many new areas of work was significant. The range of topics presented on by members and practitioners alike saw the Alliance recognise both the evolution of the LGBTI sector and the ongoing need for the Alliance to be working at a national level.
During 2013 – 2014, the Alliance significantly increased its presence with the Government and non LGBTI services through the ongoing submission of Policy and programmatic advice across a broad range of areas impacting on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people in Australia. The Alliance’s membership base experienced new growth with the ongoing work being done in collaboration with non-LGBTI organisations and 2014 saw the embedding of new consultation mechanisms that enabled many organisations and individuals provide evidence to national issues of relevance that had not previously been possible.
The Alliance’s Regional Connect project commenced in 2014 with funding from the Department of Social Services and in collaboration with partners in each state and territory, provide the Alliance with the opportunity to reach out to and support some of the most isolated members of our communities.
With so many projects and resources being created across the country, the Alliance in 2015 developed and launched a new national Knowledge Hub through their website so that there was a single point of contact for people to find quality and relevant information for working with LGBTI people. 2015 also saw the Health In Difference conference held in Canberra and attracting over 400 participants working across the lifespan of LGBTI people.
Our journey so far has taught us about the importance of collaboration and innovation, of national learning and of local relevance. It has taught us about ways in which we can create cohesion within diversity and about the ways in which we understand inclusion. It has taught us that we have a long way to go.
Who we are
A world where relationships, sexualities, bodies, and genders are affirmed and valued in all their diversity.
We provide leadership and advocacy to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and their communities across Australia.
We support our member organisations to influence and improve policies and services for LGBTI people, their families and their communities.
We advocate to reduce discrimination, stigma and violence against LGBTI people, their families and their communities.
In all aspects of our work, the Alliance upholds the following values:
- Integrity – Our ways of working are open, respectful, honest and transparent, we take responsibility for our actions.
- Diversity – We seek to understand the diverse circumstances and cultures of the people and communities we work with; we strive to ensure all experiences are respected and recognised.
- Collaboration – We broaden our impact by working with our partners, members and stakeholders on shared goals to achieve the very best outcomes.
- Innovation – We consciously reflect and learn to improve our work and achieve our vision through being open to new ideas and fresh approaches..
- Excellence – We do what we do well, and base our work on evidence of need and effectiveness.
- Impact – We strive to achieve maximum influence to promote the visibility and health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, families and communities.
Our role is shaped through consultation with our members, funders and stakeholders and the needs articulated by LGBTI people and the communities in which they live and work.
- Leadership – We are the national peak body representing the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and their communities and provide a nationally unified voice
- Advocacy – We present a nationally coordinated voice that aims to influence and change public policies and programs impacting on positive health outcomes for LGBTI people, their families and their communities
- Research, strategy and policy – We use evidence and the experiences of individual, their families and communities experience to inform our work, establish our priorities and drive an agenda for change.
The way we work
The way we work is determined by our values, the priorities and the objectives in this plan and include:
- Lived experience – We will ensure that the experience of LGBTI people, their families and communities inform our work.
- Networking – We establish and maintain platforms for ongoing dialogue and communication, with our members,other organisations and governments to build alliances and common goals for action.
- Engaging our members – We recognise that our members are an essential part of the Alliance. We listen to our members, and actively involve them in shaping our priorities and our work. We will continue do this through formal and informal advisory structures, interest groups and through the use of digital and other technological tools.
- Collaborating – We work in partnership with our members and stakeholders, avoiding duplication of effort, and we engage our members to undertake projects and programs on our behalf. We will seek opportunities to jointly undertake policy and advocacy work.
- Capacity building – We support the development of local and grassroots, community led organisations and where possible will invest in developing their knowledge, skills and capacity. We affirm their expertise in the provision of our activities and services.
- Service delivery – We will deliver services, projects and programs especially where gaps exist and/or other agencies are not available. As these services and projects mature, we will consider devolving them to existing or new organisations if they will provide a better framework for future growth and sustainability.
- Effectively communicating – We will share our knowledge and experience with our members and stakeholders to learn from each other and avoid duplication of effort. We will act as a nationally coordinated voice about the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and their communities. We will regularly inform our members and stakeholders of our successes and learnings. And we will support our members and stakeholders with our resources and tools.
- Delivering campaigns – We will develop, implement and evaluate campaigns to promote the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and their communities in line with our vision and priorities. Campaigns will be targeted around specific issues associated with our vision and priorities, involve our members and partners, and employ a range of tactics including, where appropriate, media channels.
What we’ve achieved
The first Strategic Plan released by the Alliance covered the period from 2012 – 2015. It was a plan that set out to facilitate the important work and activities of the Alliance in a period where members and stakeholders were asked to collaborate with the Alliance in a new way and in a period where the Alliance was recognised as national voice to effectively respond to LGBTI Health needs.
A National Health Voice contributing to Health Policy and the development of an evidence base.
The Alliance has created and taken up many opportunities to effectively provide a national voice to the ongoing conversations around LGBTI health in Australia. This has included the development of policy and advice about the health needs of LGBTI people to the Australian Government, to the non-LGBTI sectors, and to the wider community as a whole.
Through the development and implementation of national partnership project and consultation mechanisms, the Alliance has the Alliance has been able to provide advice about the lived experiences of a very wide range of people across Australia, to contribute to positive changes to national health policy, and to engage in nuanced legislative and policy efforts.
Some of these areas include the Australian Senate Inquiry into the involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people; the development of the Genders, Bodies and Relationships Passport; conducting national consultations in the areas of family and interpersonal violence, airport and aviation security, mental health system reform, ageing and aged care, asylum seekers and refugees, and public health; collaboration to remove gender-specific language from the Medicare Benefits Schedule; engagement with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to ensure equitable access to testosterone and with the Australian Bureau of Statistics on national inclusive data collection.
A National Body that contributes to the Capacity Development of our members to promote the health and wellbeing of LGBTI Australians.
As an organisation, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the values that we share as an Alliance: that this a community controlled organisation: that we apply evidence within and from our practice throughout our work; and that we continually explore diverse perspectives to progress our work into the future. Our policy and project work across the broad areas of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (MindOUT & QLife) and Ageing and Aged Care have generated opportunities for many Alliance member organisations and partners to receive funding to develop local capacity and capabilities. In the past two years, we can proudly say that more that about 60% of the funding received by the Alliance goes directly to members to fund local project delivery. The opportunities for innovation and growth offered by collaboration at a national level has clearly demonstrated the strength of the Alliance and its approach to Capacity Development and Project Management.
Priority One: Looking forward
We will respond to emerging needs and new issues, while recognising our histories, and strive to ensure that health policies and programs improve the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and communities.
- To shape new agendas and priorities for action, whilst taking into account our communities histories and emerging needs, in collaboration with our members and partners.
- To ensure that the work of the Alliance is informed by evidence and supported with lived experience.
- To advocate that health and community services and policies are responsive and sensitive to the needs of LGBTI people, their families and communities.
- To identify and promote new and effective models of service delivery whether they are stand alone or fully integrated.
Priority Two: Respected and Influential
We will increase our impact by positioning ourselves as the national ‘go to’ organisation on LGBTI health and wellbeing matters. We will achieve this by listening to LGBTI people, their families and communities and maintaining their respect and trust.
- To build our expertise and capacity in LGBTI health and wellbeing.
- To be the collaborator of choice for Governments, service providers and community organisations on LGBTI health and wellbeing.
- To deliver targeted, evidence based campaigns designed to reduce discrimination and promote the diversity of LGBTI people, their families and their communities.
- To be an effective, well-managed and well-governed organisation that regularly reflects on and reviews its performance at all levels.
- To pursue diverse income streams to enable sustainable implementation of our vision and autonomy.
Priority Three: Supporting the health of LGBTI people, their families and their communities
We will continue to develop projects, programs, policies and resources to support the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people, their families and communities across all life stages building on the strengths of our work in mental health, peer support and ageing and aged care. Our work will always promote diversity, reduce violence and discrimination, and uphold human rights.
- To identify new and emerging opportunities to improve existing services, collaboratively develop new services and pursue new funding opportunities.
- To involve LGBTI people, their families and communities in all stages of designing, developing, implementing and evaluating all new projects, programs and services.
- To work in partnership with our members and other community organisations in the delivery of projects and programs aimed at providing and improving services.
- To develop new projects, programs and services where there is an identified need and there is no existing capacity or ability to address this need.
Priority Four: Building the Resilience of Our Communities
LGBTI people, their families and their communities will be strengthened by our work.
- To develop the capacity of our members by building knowledge and skills through the provision of training programs, tool kits, events, forums, etc.
- To support organisations to grow utilising a range of strategies such as mentoring, grants, networking, etc.
- To develop tools and resources to enable our members and other community organisations to respond to issues arising and critical incidents.
Priority Five: Learning and Education for the Future
Learning and education opportunities are an investment into the future. Learning environments include schools, vocational colleges and universities and represent places where people learn and also places where people work.
- To advocate for learning environments that are inclusive, supportive and safe.
- To foster, develop and deliver curriculums that are inclusive of LGBTI people, their families and their communities.
- To advocate that future training programs for health, education and community providers are inclusive of the needs of LGBTI people, their families and communities.
- To seek out opportunities for investment in research and evaluations that continue to build evidence and support best practices.
Why we want to be working on these things.
Despite progress being made in recent years, LGBTI people continue to face a disproportionately high negative health outcomes in comparison with the rest of the population. The impacts from ongoing systemic discrimination is significant across society and it is still the case that the LGBTI sector is significantly under-resourced and heavily reliant on volunteering and other non-Government support.
There remains a distinct lack of understanding for and cultural competence of the needs of LGBTI people in the provision of public services including education, health, mental health and aged care. This includes a poor understanding both within and outside of LGBTI people and populations on the different issues that affect our communities and populations, particularly in relation to gender identity and intersex status. The ongoing failure to to adequately address issues impacting on our families and our relationships continues to create an experience for many of discrimination, and remains a significant barrier in adequately addressing the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people.
An elder who is 65 years old will have lived through a time in which homosexuality was illegal in all Australian states and territories. It was not until 1997 that homosexuality was finally decriminalised across the whole of Australia. Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 1973, but was still classified as a mental illness by the World Health Organisation until 1990. Gender Identity Disorder was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) 5 in 2013, but was replaced with the term “gender dysphoria,” which continues to be a diagnosis given to people of trans experience. People with intersex variations continue to be subjected to unnecessary and sometimes harmful “normalising” procedures without informed consent so that their bodies will conform more closely to what is interpreted as “typical” male or female bodies.
Research indicates that significant adverse health outcomes continue to disproportionately affect LGBTI people because of the failure to both address their needs through generic and mainstream approaches to service delivery and social determinants, such as discrimination.
Significant law reform, prioritisation of appropriate data collection and research and changes to policy and practice require a collaborative approach to be able to address these issues both federally and at a state based level.
Through a strategic and coordinated response, the health and wellbeing of LGBTI individuals, families and communities can be improved, however without any Commonwealth Minister or government agency taking primary responsibility for the oversight of the work that needs to be done, the improvement of the health disparities for LGBTI people in Australia will continue to be significant.
How will we know where we got – Accountability to our members and stakeholders
The Alliance will hold itself accountable to achieving the priorities and objectives outlined in this Plan.
To achieve this, and in addition to regular and routine Board reporting, the Alliance will monitor progress and regularly and publicly report on the following top level indicators which are designed to demonstrate impact, reach and effectiveness:
- Changes in federal Government policies and legislation
- Completed policy submissions
- Advice sought by Government
- Alliance representation in forums (or by Alliance nominees)
- Growth in new members
- Visits to the Alliance website
- Feedback by members
- Increase in Government funding.
Delivering on our plan
Our strategic plan provides the directions for the next five years for the Board and the organisation.
To implement our plan, we will develop annual business plans as the means for establishing responsibilities and the measures against which achievements will be assessed.
Annual business plans will provide our staff with a direct line of sight to the strategic plan for their individual performance and development plans.
Alliance Strategic Plan
Annual Alliance Business Plan
Performance and Development Plans
As a membership based organisation, this 2020 Strategic Plan has been developed through a process of seeking the views and opinions of members, staff, Board, funders, and key stakeholder organisations and individuals. We are very grateful for their efforts and time.
The 2020 Strategic Plan project was governed by the Alliance Board and overseen by a Reference Group established specifically for this purpose. The Reference Group comprised of two Alliance Board directors, the Executive Director and two Alliance senior staff.
Workshops were held in states and territories and open to all members and key invited stakeholders.
Additional workshops were held with the Alliance Board and staff.
In-depth interviews were conducted with strategic stakeholders, funders and key individuals. The interviews covered a standard set of questions to ensure consistency of approach and data collected.
A Community Survey was conducted online via the Alliance website on an anonymous basis during October and November 2015.
Informal and formal submissions were made to a dedicated email account (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you to Alliance members, Board directors, staff, funders and individuals, organisations and stakeholders who participated in the developed of the 2020 Strategic Plan .