Nicky is the CEO of LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (lgbtiqhealth. org.au) – the national peak organisation for providers of health-related programs, services and research focused on LGBTIQ+ people and communities.
“Once, at a GP surgery, I could just tell by [the environment] that it probably wasn’t a good idea for me to tell that GP that I had a wife. When you’re not able to take your whole self to the doctor, there are elements of your health that get ignored. Now I’m privileged to have a great GP – there are amazing practitioners and services out there – but for many people that’s not the case.
“Many of us [in the LGBTIQ+ communities] live happy and healthy lives. But there’s also a phenomenon called minority stress [additional stress that members of marginalised groups face]... caused by prejudice and discrimination, and it’s a particular issue for our trans and gender diverse communities. Access to gender affirming care is also challenging. In some jurisdictions, the waitlist is unacceptably high, yet access to this healthcare is lifesaving. Other disparities include mental health; a 2020 report* found that almost 42 per cent of LGBTIQ people had considered suicide in the previous 12 months.
“My wish is for people to be able to access the healthcare they need from a young age. We’re talking about holistic, inclusive services that ask the right questions, understand and are supportive, safe and non-judgemental.
“There are great LGBTIQ+ health orgs across the country – our website has all the information. If you ever don’t have a good healthcare [experience], make a complaint. Talk to friends, family (if you can) and your community about ways to access good healthcare, because it is out there; we just need to join the dots.”
Visit qlife.org.au (1800 184 527) for LGBTIQ+ peer support and referral. Find 24-hour mental health support via lifeline. org.au (13 11 14), and beyondblue.org.au (1300 22 4636).