QLife: the emerging data story of LGBTI people and populations in Australia.

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Data emerging from the QLife project is providing an unprecedented wealth of critical information about the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people and populations in Australia. We are beginning to notice thematic trends, demographics, and population needs. Some of this material raises questions about the common stories told about ‘LGBTI’ people: where do they live? What sorts of stresses are they facing? How do they speak about their identities?

QLife is constantly growing…

In the last year, QLife received more than 10,000 contacts (via phone, webchat and email)! That’s 27.4 contacts a day and over 5 for every hour QLife is open. This represents 128% growth in contacts to QLife since January 2014. Webchat has seen the biggest growth and now makes up about 25% of all contacts received by QLife. QLife’s recently expanded hours means the lines are now open for 4 more hours every day, from 3pm to midnight every day of the year, giving people more time to connect and talk it out.

Who contacts us?

While QLife is anonymous, some data is collected to help give a better picture of what QLife is achieving, for whom it exists and why it exists.

People who contact QLife reflect the diversity of identities, bodies, genders, and sexualities that comprise ‘LGBTI’ populations. From the data collected through QLife, we are beginning to notice some trends.

Just a few of these are outlined below:

  • A popular myth is that LGBTI people are significantly more likely to live in cities; however, 20% of QLife contacts come from regional/rural/remote areas, which is in-line with population statistics of Australia as a whole. Further, 40% of webchats come from these areas and not the cities.
  • About 15% of people who contact QLife are unsure about or questioning their sexuality. 4% of people contacting QLife are questioning or unsure of their gender experience/identity.
  • Webchat is usually accessed by people under 26, whereas people who are older tend to call.

Why do they contact?

People contact QLife for so many reasons including; talking about coming out, help with relationships in their lives, experiencing grief and loss, and discrimination and human rights issues. Some people discuss experiences of homophobia and transphobia, mental health issues and legal issues. Others contact QLife for a general check in about their lives, connecting with another person with lived experience who is able to offer non-judgemental support as a peer from the LGBTI communities. There are also many enquiries for referrals, with more than 1000 referrals given in the six months from July to December.

With the recent media attention regarding the Safe Schools Coalition and potential plebiscite on ‘same-gender’ marriage, there are some very public and socially-charged conversations occurring about gender, sexuality and the rights of LGBTI people, and QLife anticipates this may affect an increase in contacts in coming months. Based on our experience, we know these conversations have very real health and wellbeing implications for our communities.

QLife is consistently growing: in the number of contacts each month, in its recognition with LGBTI people and those who support LGBTI people , and is confirming its place as a vital service for LGBTI people across Australia.

More information: www.lgbtihealth.org.au/qlife
QLife landing page for those seeking support: www.qlife.org.au