MEMBERS of the LGTIQ+ community and their families across the Greater Geelong region will now have access to free or low-cost counselling.
Under the Drummond Street services, ‘queerspace’ has emerged to better support the needs of the LGBTIQ+ community and their family relationships.
queerspace general manager Jemma Mead said the Melbourne-based services extended their reach to regional communities after recognising a growing need for accessible queer counselling.
“Eight years ago, we started our mental health support services in Geelong as Drummond Street,” she said.
“We started to see more and more families who had identified members as a part of the LGBTIQA+ community.”
queerspace began running in Geelong in September, with Ms Mead saying the COVID-19 lockdown had devastating effects in youth suicide and depression amongst the LGBTIQA+ community.
“We are still feeling it, the lockdown may be over, but the impact will be long lasting,” she said.
“A lot of people lost their jobs and had to move back home to families who may not be supportive of their gender identity or sexuality.
“We were in the same storm but different boats and that is very true for the queer community.”
The queerpace services are free or based on the client’s ability to pay with Ms Mead saying no one will be refused counselling.
Through the organisation people can access individual, relationship and family counselling as well as case management, advocacy and support services.
Professional development training is taught for workplaces who work with or wish to provide services to LGBTIQ+ people and their families.
queerspace also offers a seven-week program titled ‘The Village’ which facilitates the family-approach taken by the organisation with the aim of engaging parents and caregivers of transgender diverse and gender questioning young people.
“For people of all ages family is incredibly important to our health and wellbeing and for the LGBTIQ+ community there is higher risk of being disconnected from families and peers,” Ms Mead said.
“When you think about the impact of feeling disconnected with family so many mental health issues flow on.
“We take the family approach because when a young person comes out the whole unit needs to adjust to the new family identity.”
The Geelong office is now being re-established with face-to-face appointments currently undertaken at local community centres, as well alternative modes being offered via Zoom and telephone.
To access services call 9663 6733 or email [email protected]