June 8 2011
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:14): I move:
That this Council:
1. Expresses its concern that young people who are same-sex attracted and/or gender questioning continue to face discrimination and stigma in our society and consequently are more likely to attempt or commit suicide, to be at risk or homeless and to suffer unnecessary mental illnesses or other indicators of a higher health burden than their peers;
2. Welcomes and encourages all efforts to counter this discrimination and stigma;
3. Notes that programs offering peer and group support are uniquely effective in tackling the isolation that some young same sex-attracted and/or gender questioning people may experience;
4. Congratulates the longstanding Government-run programs at Second Story, including Inside Out and Evolve, for their continued efforts to support young people who are same sex-attracted and/or gender questioning; and
5. Urges that the valuable role of targeted support and counselling programs for this vulnerable group be continued with at least current levels of funding and with access by young people to group support and peer education as well as counselling and health services and advice.
I move this motion to draw to the attention of members of this place, and hopefully members in the other place, the wonderful work that we have seen done for many years by the Second Story Youth Health Service, in particular with the programs Inside Out and Evolve. This work has been a great resource and support to young people who are same-sex attracted and/or gender questioning. There is the 'and/or' there, because it is quite a complex area. Somebody who is young and discovering their sexuality, and perhaps their gender, has a lot of questions, so that is a big part of the process that they go through.
As we know, adolescence is a testing time as it is, and to have lumped in on top of that the possibility that you may be same-sex attracted, bisexual or transgender, that you somehow do not fit in with regards to your sexuality, you are somehow not what is termed 'straight' or the 'norm' or the 'hetero norm', can be quite a challenge to have on top of the hormones going crazy and the search for identity that any young person has.
There has not been a great deal of research into this area, surprisingly, in terms of the Australian body of work, but I would point to a La Trobe study. It is called 'Writing young people in', and it was a survey of young same-sex attracted people in Victoria. The findings I think show that discrimination is alive and well and that the need for services for these young people is as present as it ever was.
Thirty-eight per cent of the participants in that survey reported unfair treatment on the basis of their sexuality. Forty-four per cent reported verbal abuse. Sixteen per cent reported physical abuse. The figures are largely unchanged since the first reporting, and this has been a longitudinal study. That is concerning and should be ringing bells. It shows that, as I say, stigma and discrimination against those who are not heterosexual are alive and well.
What was really concerning was that school was found to be the most dangerous place for these young people, with 74 per cent of the young people surveyed who were abused experiencing this abuse at their school. That was 80 per cent of the young men and 48 per cent of the young women. You would think that our schools should in fact be safe places where people can get an education, but we do know that bullying is quite a challenge in our schools, and certainly when you throw the layers of sexuality and discrimination and stigma in, a lot of young people in Australia are in fact doing it a bit tough.
That verbal abuse goes from name-calling to quite physical abuse, which can be perpetrated not only by friends and people in the street but also by families. I will read a comment from Miriam, who was 19 years old:
My father and stepmother…believed that I wouldn't be gay if they knocked it out of me, quite literally used to slam my head against the wall, gave me a headache, but I'm still gay.
Owen, who was 15 years old, reported that he 'got smashed' by his dad. They also talked about violence in schools. Tori, who was 20 years old, talked about being pushed down the stairs and into a wall at her high school. Tyron, who was 16 years old, talked about a guy who threatened to kill him and he had to in fact stop going out at all in case that person was there. He knew that this person would bash him up for no reason at all and both he and his brother would push him around.
Yolanda, who was 19, was bullied all the way through school, mostly for being different, but her sexuality was the biggest factor in why she was different. She was spat on, her legs were kicked from behind as she attempted to walk away, she was thrown against walls and she was threatened. Hugh, who is now 21 years old, talked about his experience at his boarding school. He was subjected to other guys pretending to have sex with him.
He had his bed urinated on, and he had a broomstick inserted into his anus.
Other people experience that discrimination and physical and verbal abuse in public places. Trina, who is 21, said that she kissed her girlfriend goodbye at a train station and a man walking past started screaming abuse at both of them. She left the train station and the man was outside waiting for her. He grabbed her, shook her and screamed in her face about how sick she was. He almost knocked her down some stairs, but she managed to push him off and another man nearby helped her walk away. Victor, who is 20 years old, was walking home when a group of six 12 year olds began teasing him and asking him if he were gay. He said that, stupidly, he said yes. They tripped him to the ground and kicked him until a car stopped and the youths ran away.
Vance, who is 17 years old, said that he and his boyfriend were punched at a local beach. He said, 'A group of about seven guys in their early 20s were around, and two of them laid into me and my boy. I was hospitalised and lucky not to have a broken jaw, just fractures. My boy has had back pains ever since.' I find it interesting that Vance thought that he was lucky; I certainly do not think any parent whose child was bashed on a beach by a group of thugs would think their child was lucky. I raise these stories because when I say that stigma and discrimination are alive and well, this is the form they take in being alive and well—or unwell, I would say—in our community.
Young people who are coming out, or who are gender questioning, go through this in their teenage lives, and they deal with it, but I congratulate the programs at Second Story for providing both a fortnightly Friday night drop-in service and peer education for those young people who have been through that group, and been through the discrimination themselves, and provide each other with support. It is quite telling that when a young person is so isolated by their gender identity or sexuality—and they have no-one to talk to in their immediate life or anyone who has been through that sort of situation—one of the cheapest things you can do is let them actually meet other young people in exactly the same situation.
Of course, their stories and their life journeys are completely different, but the discrimination they face is the common thread. They can talk with each other and learn from each other that they can get through it. They can learn tips and tricks or just feel stronger. We know that when we band people together, they have a sense of camaraderie and a certain spirit. If we do not have those sorts of services in this state for our gay and gender-questioning young people, then I wonder where our responsibility is. The only reason we could purport not to need these services would be if we could proudly stand here and say that we do not have discrimination or stigma in this society today—yet we know that we do.
We know there is still homophobia, and we saw it just recently at the International Day of Action on Homophobia, the IDAHO Day, when the Adelaide Street Church group took offence to the idea of gay people gathering together and straight people supporting them and sought to break that up with antagonism and physical and verbal abuse. So, we know that discrimination and stigma are alive and well, which means that we need the wonderful work that the Second Story programs, Inside Out and Evolve, are currently undertaking.
However, I am concerned that recent internal moves within the Second Story hierarchy have sought to mainstream—and I would say that would mean be made invisible—the programs and supports offered to these young people to personal one-on-one counselling services, perhaps with access to referrals to services. We know that these young people are more likely to be at risk of homelessness and, from the abuse in particular, are more likely to have things such as post-traumatic stress disorders and mental health issues, such as depression. These issues are experienced within this cohort at a much higher level than those of their peers.
July 6 2011
Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. T.A. Franks:
(Continued from 8 June 2011.)
he Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (17:35): I rise to speak on this motion and provide some remarks and indicate that the Liberal Party will be supporting this particular motion. Reading between the lines of how it has been reported in the media, I am taking it that there has been some dispute between volunteers at the service and some of the management, and I am pleased that the particular programs involved, which were Evolve and Inside Out, will not now be cut.
I was contacted, as other honourable members may have been, in mid-April by Blaze Magazine which said that they had received information that Second Story would be closing those two projects—Evolve and Inside Out—which focus on same-sex attracted youth in peer education and group drop-in sessions in favour of one of counselling which requires referral and greater evidence of vulnerability than having a diverse sexuality or gender. Blaze wrote to me and stated that:
Concerns have been raised that this will see same sex attracted youth placed at further risk as the current preventative services of peer education, mental and social support and HIV prevention information will be exchanged for remedial services.
They have concerns about this new service model. They wanted to know what we thought the motives would be for such a change in the current service model and what evidence had been provided that discontinuing such services would be of benefit. We contacted the health minister's office, which was quite prompt in providing a reply to us to advise that those services would not be cut. That letter to me of 29 June states:
What is currently underway at The Second Story Youth Health Service is a new planning and development process to ensure the provision of high quality, effective, best practice and safe health services for vulnerable young people, including those who identify as gay, bisexual or same-sex attracted.
There are a few weasel words in there, but I accept that the program will no longer be cut. I should just say, before I refer to a letter that the opposition received, that this issue was raised during the recent estimates process by my colleague the member for Unley who, in questioning the Minister for Youth, asked whether Second Story and indeed the issue of ward 4G had been directly raised with her and whether she had had advice sought and what advice she had provided.
I think it is telling that the minister—who has a very important portfolio, which is quite directly relevant to this particular issue—had not been consulted about it. I am sure that, if she has been, she would have told them that they should retain the service. The government policy, known as Youth Connect, directly infers in its first few pages that it wants to be inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer (GLBTIQ) young people. So, in seeking to cut those services, I think the government was ignoring its own strategy.
I received a letter via one of my country colleagues in the Liberal Party, whom I will not name because I do not wish to identify the person who wrote it. This person wrote to his former local member expressing concern about these two programs being cut. His story is, I think, probably quite typical of young people in the country who may be experiencing sexuality issues. He states:
After moving to the city I at first felt I had no support and nowhere to turn to find other youth my age who I felt comfortable associating with. I was, however, lucky enough to hear of this service—
that is, those services at Second Story—
and was invited to come on a Friday evening. Within the group, I found acceptance and like-minded youth who helped me form friendships both within and outside the project while also gaining advice on sexual health, personal safety and other important areas.
He makes several other comments and then states:
These struggles are magnified when the youth in question is 'different', and I imagine you would be concerned to hear that queer youth are still grossly overrepresented in youth homelessness and youth suicide. I fear from this cut in funding that parliament may no longer consider queer youth to be at risk—a worrying assumption indeed.
And I concur with his remarks. As I said, I think that is fairly typical of the experience of young people in country areas who may come to the city needing some support, advice and assistance. Clearly, a peer model is of great benefit to them, rather than what has been proposed: to change the structure of those particular programs. So, I endorse all of the points expressed in this motion and commend the motion to the council.
The Hon. S.G. WADE (17:42): I rise to support the motion of the Hon. Tammy Franks on same-sex discrimination. The motion focuses on discrimination related to the potential mainstreaming of a service for young gay males provided by The Second Story.
Governments are in the business of providing services efficiently and effectively. One of the factors towards efficiency is to be able to deliver a service which can be delivered cost- effectively and affordably on a mass scale. In that sense, mass delivery is a check against discrimination. If everyone in the state receives access to a similar service on the same criteria, this mitigates against discrimination. However, postage stamp services can also carry the seed of discrimination if they do not allow for relevant differences. It is discrimination to treat people differently when they are the same. It is no less discriminatory to treat people the same when they are different.
Service providers are engaging in discriminatory practices when they treat people with similar circumstances differently; for example, if a person is excluded on the basis of aboriginality. However, exclusion can also occur when relevant differences are not allowed for. The obvious example is disability. People with disabilities are excluded from services if service providers do not facilitate physical access through measures such as ramps, or communication access through measures such as TTY text telephones. Providing ramps and TTY typewriters is not positive discrimination: it is removing barriers to equal access and equal opportunity.
It is essential that mainstream services such as health, education and transport are flexible and focused enough to meet the particular needs of subgroups within the community. There comes a point where the needs of some groups are so distinctive and/or the risk is so high that mainstream services are not enough. To not provide specialist services is of itself discriminatory. A transport service is discriminatory if there is not a mix of access for elderly people to mainstream transport and specialist transport. Education is discriminatory if it does not provide bridging courses for people who cannot speak English, and so forth.
The opposition is concerned about the mainstreaming of the Second Story services because it would be inappropriate and may be discriminatory to a group of young South Australians at risk, that is, to young gay or gender and sexuality questioning males. We have real concerns that their needs are so distinctive and the risk is so high that a specialist service is vital. Young gay males need to be provided support to clarify their orientation issues and effectively engage in health issues and services targeted at the LGBTI community.
As I said earlier, it is discrimination to treat people differently when they are the same; it is no less discriminatory to treat people the same when they are different. Section 47 of the Equal Opportunities Act 1984 recognises this issue. It authorises special measures intended to ensure that persons of a particular sexuality have equal opportunities with people of another sexuality.
If the government fails to ensure equal access to young gay or gender and sexuality questioning males, it is engaging in discrimination. In assessing the situation, we are aware of the Rann government's lack of commitment to the LGBTI community. The most stark demonstration of that lack of commitment was the abolition of the Gay and Lesbian Advisory Council in 2008.
I would like to reflect on the situation that LGBTI youth face in South Australia at this time. In May 2010 the AIDS Council of South Australia issued a report entitled 'Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Health Policy in South Australia: An exploration and jurisdictional analysis'. It revealed some damning statics, and I quote:
- LGBT people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than the rest of the community
- That levels of violence and harassment experienced by LGBTI populations is still a significant issue with a recent study showing 80% of LGBTI individuals had experienced public insults, 70% had experienced verbal abuse, 20% had experienced physical threats and 13% had experienced physical assault.
The report cited a 2004 report by Rogers, which showed that one quarter of the study participants reported they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.
Through the stellar work of the Hon. John Dawkins and others in this council, we are well aware of the blight of suicide in our nation. According to the ABS 2009 'Causes of Death' report, 22.1 per cent of all male deaths aged 15 to 24 were due to suicide. Similarly, for females suicide deaths comprise a much higher proportion of total deaths in younger age groups compared with older age groups.
In an article entitled 'Wear it Purple to Support Gay Youth at Risk', the samesame.com.au website quotes a suicide prevention Australia report with the following alarming statistics: 38 per cent of gay people have experienced discrimination; 50 per cent have experienced verbal abuse; and, shockingly, 74 per cent of this abuse happened at school. Around 30 per cent of Australian gay teenagers will attempt suicide. In Australia, on average, over 200 young people will suicide this year. Around 30 per cent of Australia's gay teenagers will attempt suicide. Gay teens are 14 times more likely to attempt suicide than their gay peers. Research undertaken by the University of Sydney states:
The past three decades have produced growing evidence of increased suicide risk amongst same sex attracted youth…Bullying at school is thought to be a contributing factor. In a recent study by Hillier [and others] (1998) of 14-21 year old same sex attracted youth, 46% reported they had been verbally abused because of their sexuality and 16% had been physically abused.
These statistics reveal a situation that demands a response. They represent the loss of hundreds of young Australians and the suffering of many others. We need to be alert to what we can do to reduce that figure in the future. The Rann government has a poor record in terms of listening to the needs of the LGBTI community. I have already referred to the abolition of the gay and lesbian ministerial advisory council in 2008.
Further, ACSA has accused the government of failing to recognise the needs of the LGBTI community in that it has not dedicated a responsible minister, it does not have a ministerial advisory structure, nor does it have a designated departmental unit or dedicated LGBTI health policy/plan/strategy. Once again, this government fails to effectively consult. Whether it is Ward 4G for young people with eating disorders, the Parks Community Centre, or Second Story, the recurring reality of this so-called Labor government is that they are devoid of values and arrogant in their failure to consult.
On 4 May in this place the Hon. Ian Hunter highlighted the risk to the Second Story programs. In this motion the Hon. Tammy Franks gives this council the opportunity to reflect further on this situation. The Second Story is a service provider under the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service. It serves youth between 12 and 25 years and offers a free confidential health service to all that inquire. The Second Story was established in 1986 after the then minister for health visited The Door service based in New York.
In 1994 the Second Story opened a second service at Elizabeth. In accord with its mission to provide confidential health services for young people aged between 12 and 25, the Second Story includes in its priority issues 'those related to mental health, sexual health and substance abuse'. Its priority populations include 'socially disadvantaged young people, young parents, indigenous youth, same-sex attracted young people, early school leavers and young people in secure care centres'. The Minister for Health in the other place has written in response to constituents in the following terms:
I would like to reassure you that the Inside Out and Evolve projects for same-sex attracted and gender questioning young people will continue to be provided...by the Second Story Youth Health Service.
The minister went on to say:
The aim of the review is to provide better services, improve access for vulnerable young people and offer holistic health care interventions.
However, I am concerned, in the context of the minister's reassurances, to read minutes from the Inside Out and Evolve—Peer Educators' meeting on 4 April 2011. In those minutes it reads:
- ·The Second Story shall be focusing on more 'vulnerable' groups rather than same-sex attracted. The 'new service target' will be: Aboriginal, guardianship of the minister, young parents, 'vulnerable' young people.
- ·'Drop-in group' and 'peer education' services for same-sex attracted youth will be cut and redirected to counselling services.
- ·There shall still be possible group opportunities in the future, but not with a same-sex attracted focus.
- ·There shall be no more individual 'drop-ins' and same-sex attracted youth will have to go through a rigorous and inappropriate assessment process to determine if they are 'vulnerable'.
- ·If Inside Out and Evolve clients wish to still access services then they're forced to undergo an assessment process to determine whether they are 'vulnerable'.
I note the limited assurances that the minister has given about the continuation of services, including those referred to by the Hon. Michelle Lensink, but I remain concerned that hidden behind those words seems to be a clear trend to mainstreaming services and, as I indicated earlier, mainstreaming services for vulnerable target groups can be, in itself, discriminatory.
A major issue arises in the assessment of vulnerability where we have fragile and potentially uncertain young people with concerns regarding their sexuality, or potential sexuality, having to attend a clinical assessment to prove their vulnerability. I would ask the council to consider the implications of having to ask an at-risk young person, potentially already lacking in confidence, to face a clinical assessment to evaluate their vulnerability.
The opposition is very concerned the potential mainstreaming of services within Second Story may discriminate and may fail to provide adequate services to all those who need it. The Hon. Ian Hunter states that the Minister for Health has had a strong support for programs in the past. My question is: what has changed? Why is the minister not acting to provide clear reassurance that appropriate specialist services will be maintained?
In questioning the government's plans for Second Story, I do not merely want to defend the status quo. I have real concerns about the lack of support for young gay people beyond metropolitan Adelaide. The issue is not one that solely affects those in the city. Former Australian human rights commissioner Chris Sidoti stated in a speech in 1999:
Lesbian, gay and bisexual young people in rural areas are severely disadvantaged. They experience the stigma associated with homosexuality, the disempowerments common among young people and the difficulties of contemporary rural life. Research also shows that, in the face of these difficulties, they often receive less than adequate support from families, schools, youth services and the broader community.
In a paper published in 2003, K. Quinn of the University of Adelaide made the following observations:During the last nine months of the 2001-02 financial year, the SA Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service received 1,517 telephone calls...Of the total number of calls, 186 were from rural callers (12.3 per cent) of which 28 were from rural women (15 per cent) and 158 were from rural men (85 per cent ). Although rural callers were considerably fewer than urban callers, the percentages are important when the call content is considered. Most urban callers sought local venue information, however; rural callers predominantly sought guidance about health and relationship issues and general support.
The opposition supports the motion, but we also call on the government to reassess the services it delivers to rural and regional South Australia. The best option available would be to implement thorough, specialist services to assist with the needs of LGBTI young people across the state. Doing so will reduce their need for future services as they age.
Given the alarming prevalence of teen suicide and other health issues amongst the LGBTI community, it is vital that we move to a place where this state provides services to all those citizens who need it, and not discriminate by providing generalist services in response to a specialist need. I indicate my support for the motion.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT (17:56): I wish to place on the record my brief but strong support for the Hon. Ms Franks' motion, and to thank her for bringing it to the attention of the council. I will not take up too much time of the council as I wholeheartedly agree with the comments the Hon. Ms Franks made to this motion when she introduced it on 8 June, and I know that there is little point in rehashing her sincere sentiments.
As the Hon. Mr Wade has already pointed out, discrimination is something that plays a big role in my work, but I will not touch on that too much given that we have already had that covered. However, I would like to point out that I hope that there is a time when programs like Evolve and Inside Out are no longer needed.
I hope that in our lifetime we will be able to see a day when discrimination against people who are same-sex attracted and/or gender or sexuality questioning no longer exists. When that is the case programs like those run by the Second Story will be able to be put to rest. Unfortunately, it is clear that that time is not now. Discrimination is still rife out there and it is heart-wrenching for same-sex attracted people or gender or sexuality questioning people to be vilified because of who they are or who they love.
I have made speeches to this effect previously but I cannot say it enough. There is never a good reason to marginalise a healthy, consensual, loving relationship regardless of who the parties of that relationship might be, and there is never a good reason to belittle someone because of who they perceive themselves as.
These are basic individual rights that we should all be free to exercise and enjoy without feeling the weight of social stigma; and, to that end, I would like to mention how horrified I was at hearing the anecdotes the Hon. Ms Franks told when she introduced this motion regarding violence towards same-sex attracted people and/or couples. I know that it is a hackneyed phrase, and I would hope that it goes without saying to every person in this place, but violence is never a solution to anything.
To me, violence towards someone on the grounds of their sexuality, violence with the idea that we can bash a person's sexuality out of them, is just as archaic as the idea that we could scrub the colour of someone's skin off, or that we could get rid of a headache by drilling a hole in our head, as was the ancient Egyptians' belief.It is because these rights—that is, the right to be who you are and to be with the person you love—are so basic and so core to our ability to function as people that there is such terrible damage done when these rights are violated. When you are told that it is wrong to love the person you love or wrong to be who you are it is, of course, hard to carry on, regardless of how much self-esteem you may or may not have. Unfortunately, the voices of others can play a big role in how we see ourselves.
This is exactly why the Second Story programs are so important. By giving people a place to explore their sexuality and gender safely, and offering the opportunity to share the weight of discrimination and the joy of self discovery with others, the Second Story is providing a truly life-affirming service—and potentially lifesaving as well, as we have already heard. Without this service some of these young people would feel like there was no place to turn and no-one who wanted to share their pain.As Ms Franks says in this regard, one-on-one counselling cannot replicate the value of the current Second Story model, and that is why group support should be retained and encouraged as an integral part of the programs offered. I believe that for as long as discrimination exists this kind of program should exist too, and for that reason I strongly support this motion.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (18:01): It has fallen to me to put on the record the government's response to the motion before the council in the name of the Hon. Ms Franks. The Minister for Health, John Hill, from the other place met with Mr Mark Fuller, Dr Jane Edwards and Mr Ian Purcell AM, former chair and members of the Gay and Lesbian Ministerial Advisory Council, on 8 June and gave a clear indication that funding levels to the Second Story Inside Out and Evolve projects would continue. The minister has also given the same commitment in a number of letters to interested correspondents, including to this speaker.
The pressures resulting from discrimination, stigma and bullying can be significant contributing factors to poor health outcomes for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender young people, including the risk of suicide, self-harm, drug abuse and homelessness. Being same sex attracted or gender-questioning is not in itself a risk factor for suicide, self-harm and poor health, as noted by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Health Alliance. This can be a particular issue for younger people who may not seek help due to lack of accessibility to mainstream services or confidentiality concerns.
The National Rural Health Alliance 2009 has noted that a national study on same sex attracted young people concluded that homophobic abuse had a profound impact on young people's health and wellbeing. Young people who have been abused fare worse on almost every indicator of health and wellbeing than those who have not. Young people who have been abused feel less safe at school, at home, on social occasions and at sporting events. Those who have been abused are more likely to self harm, to report a sexually transmitted infection and to use a range of legal and illegal drugs.
Partnerships between agencies and sectors are required to effectively address broad issues of discrimination. School, community and health services and youth and recreational organisations need to work together with young people, community members and families to reduce the isolation of young people who have been the target of discrimination and abuse and prevent it in the future. Anti-discrimination policies and strategies are required to ensure accessibility of all services for same-sex attracted young people.
Well run peer and group support programs are effective in addressing social isolation, empowering young people to develop strategies to address discrimination and bullying and to strengthen self-identity and confidence. These outcomes can be gained through programs run by a range of organisations including school, health, youth and community programs.The Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, Adelaide Health Service and Country Health SA provide a range of mainstream and youth-specific programs accessible by young people, including local partnerships to support access to services, health information and referrals, and access to health services which address the health impacts of discrimination.
The health services required to address sexual and mental health issues can include a mix of advocacy, brief interventions, counselling, peer support, group work and clinical services, depending on the needs of the individual young person. The Second Story is the youth health service of the Children, Youth and Women's Health Service, while Shopfront Youth Health and Information Service and Southern Primary Health Marion Youth are provided by Adelaide Health Service.
These are primary healthcare services designed specifically for young people of between 12 and 25 years of age.All services are designed to be accessible to vulnerable young people with diverse sexuality, ethnic background, gender, age and family status, through staff selection and training, design and delivery of promotional materials, location and accessibility of services, and service delivery methods. In this sense, the service acts as a gateway into the health system for young people who are less likely to access mainstream services.
In addition to provision of the Inside Out and Evolve projects, the Second Story also undertakes health promotion and prevention work to address discrimination and promote positive images of same-sex attracted young people with local schools and community agencies in northern and southern Adelaide. This work has been successful in raising awareness of the needs of same‑sex attracted young people and educating the public about the effects of discrimination and how to address it.
The Second Story is a member of the Northern Alliance Against Homophobia in Schools and the southern task force against homophobia, which also has a focus on schools. These groups have membership of a variety of government and non-government agencies across a range of areas, including health, education and policing.
The Inside Out and Evolve projects for same-sex attracted and gender-questioning young people will continue to be provided and developed by the Second Story youth health service. As the minister has advised in both the aforementioned meetings and numerous letters, funding for these programs will continue to at least the same level. As part of the service planning for the Second Story, the Inside Out and Evolve projects will be brought in line with national best practice. For example, the health needs of same-sex attracted teenagers will be looked at separately to those of young adults.
Service planning is being undertaken by the Second Story to further develop a service model based on the philosophy and approach of comprehensive primary health care, which gives consideration to the social, economic and political context of young people's lives. The Second Story will provide a continuum of care within the social health model that includes physical, social and emotional wellbeing and not just the absence of disease. In this approach, young people are identified as experts and involved in the process of determining their own health outcomes, with resource support from the service provider.
Service changes currently being planned by the Second Story youth health service will take into account the diverse health needs of same-sex attracted young people. The Second Story is developing a more responsive, flexible service with reduced barriers to access. The service will be more responsive to the diverse vulnerabilities of all young people, including those who are same‑sex attracted, through provision of health information and referral, health assessment and a wide range of health services.
The types of services available will increasingly reflect the health needs of the young person. The Second Story will provide an increasingly wide range of youth-focused, flexible and responsible services, inclusive of health information, referral, drop in, outreach, brief interventions, group programs, counselling, clinical services and community activities to meet the diverse health needs of vulnerable young people. With those few remarks, I indicate that government members are supporting this motion.
The Hon. A. BRESSINGTON (18:08): I rise briefly to indicate my support also for this motion. There are a couple of points I will make. I agree with the comments of the Hon. Ian Hunter when he said being a member of the LGBTI group does not necessarily meet the criteria for a mental illness, suicide or whatever, but this gets back to the point of how we as a society deal with, relate to, communicate with and accept people who are different—well, different to us but not different to them. I have not prepared anything for this, so if I put my foot in my mouth I apologise for it beforehand. The political correctness of it all sometimes is a bit much.
The point I am making, though, is that I have experienced this in my own family with a niece and nephews who have been same-sex attracted and have not been able to come out and tell their parents that this is the direction that they thought they were going in. One of my nieces—and I will use another name—named Sharon shared her feelings with one of her friends at school, and was not as great a friend as she thought.
A week after she shared the fact that she thought that she may be lesbian she was gang raped by four of the boys in the school, with the message going to her during the rape that she needed to know what she was missing out on. She never spoke of that experience when it happened. As I said, she had not been able to talk about this with her parents, so she carried that around with her for six years. She actually ended up a heroin addict and was in gaol by the time she was 21, with two children, I might add, and her life was in tatters.
If as a society we can prepare families for the fact that this may happen, and we can put information into schools that is effectively accepted by other members of the school community (namely, other students), we can go a long way in preventing lives being destroyed and people contemplating suicide as the only answer.
We ran a group to accommodate same-sex attracted people in our Drug Beat program. The reason those people were there was, first, they could not talk to their family and, secondly, they had been abused and bullied at school and it had affected their entire life. They were using drugs to forget that pain and to try the best they could to cope with their life as it was because of those traumas.
I can tell you that working with the families of these young people and getting the families to accept that, no matter what, they were still their children and that they still had feelings and ambitions, and they wanted to have the right to a good existence just like every other person in the community, went a long way to allowing repair of family relationships and a shift in dynamics that was forgiving. That is something that is quite often ignored in this debate—the fact that forgiveness by family members and how they treat the messages they send is so very important to full acceptance. For gay, lesbian, bisexual people, gender-questioning people, who they are is not their sexuality; it is their values and beliefs and the way in which they aspire to live their life.
I know for a fact that group counselling is very therapeutic and very effective. Not only is it a way of a person sharing their life experiences and their traumas but it is also a way of hearing that their life experiences and traumas sometimes are not that much different from those of other people, that they are not a one-off, one-only person who has been treated in a discriminatory, unkind or abusive way. Group therapy is very good for helping young people or any person to reconcile trauma and put it in its place, and that is that it is the ignorance of other people that has caused their trauma, not actions, sexuality or anything else. This is about society's way of coping with what it does not understand.
I am the first one to admit that I do not understand homosexuality. I do not know why it happens, but I do not have to know. I do not have to go into the genealogy of it, whether it is nature or nurture or all of that. The fact is that so many young people are coming to the conclusion that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or whatever. If it is real to them, it is real, and we just have to learn to accept that. We have to learn to integrate people, as best we can, into our society and give them all the help we can when we can when they are vulnerable.
One thing that was highlighted, or is of concern to me, is that the Hon. Ian Hunter said, in his response, that the funding has not been cut. I do not think that is the issue with this motion. The issue is that the criteria for people to access these services are going to be tailored down, if you like, and that will mean that some people who need these services are not going to fit the criteria and therefore are going to be left without the support they need.
I have a huge problem with the government approach—not just this government, but governments in general—where we try to turn human conditions into clinical conditions. It has always been the view of myself and counsellors from the organisation Drug Beat, that if you continually tell people that they are broken then eventually they will believe it.
There is nothing that will indicate to a person that they are broken any more than having them go for clinical assessments for a condition that needs nothing more than a little tender loving care, an ability to share and care with other people and an ability to connect. They are not clinical conditions and do not require clinical assessment.
In closing, I would like to say that we are constantly told that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work, yet with the streamlining by this government of services to vulnerable groups in our community, it is an indication that it does believe that one size fits all and that: it is our way or the highway. I think that needs to be changed within this government.
As I have said before, the Hon. Mike Rann promised to reconnect and re-engage with the community. These vulnerable groups are where we need to start, and let community groups do what community groups do best, that is, deal with their target groups with best practice. If they can show outcomes and they are saving lives then why does the government believe that it needs to micro-manage every aspect of what is going on out there in the community and, frankly, stick its nose in where it is not wanted and where it is not needed?
With those few remarks, I indicate my full support for this motion and I hope that Second Story is allowed to continue to offer the services that it has been offering to the target groups and achieving those successes, and that the government will just keep out of it.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (18:17): I would like to thank those members who made a contribution: the Hon. Michelle Lensink, the Hon. Ian Hunter, the Hon. Kelly Vincent, the Hon. Stephen Wade and, of course, the Hon. Ann Bressington.
I am heartened that the government has indicated support for this motion, although I am not completely convinced, given that just a week ago we did not know whether or not the drop-in group would in fact be meeting in this calendar month, that the support and funding continuing at the same level, which was never the issue here, will ensure that the peer education, the support and the drop-in group aspects of this program are kept.
I echo the Hon. Michelle Lensink's concern that perhaps we are getting a few weasel words, in terms of ministerial assurances, or perhaps the minister is getting a few weasel words fed to him from his departmental advisers. I do not think this move has actually been driven by this government. I understand that it is coming from parts of the Second Story service or the Child and Youth Health services rather than the government in terms of direction, so I am heartened that the government is very supportive of this.
I look forward to hearing in future weeks from those involved in the program that it has in fact continued, but I would note that they have been living with a lot of uncertainty, not knowing from week to week whether or not this program would go beyond 30 June. It is, again, an example in the Department of Health, and under the stewardship of the Minister for Health, where a decision has been made and then the consultation has been undertaken: whether it is Ward 4G, Second Story or things like the Keith Hospital, it seems to be an ongoing issue in the area of health and this government. I think that perhaps Consultation 101 might have to be put on the agenda for a future Labor Party caucus meeting.
I note that 'GLBTIQ', 'same-sex attracted' and 'gender questioning' are terms that we do not find in our State Strategic Plan. I am heartened to hear that they are still in the youthconnect, Office for Youth, documents, but again, I echo the Hon. Michelle Lensink's concern that the Minister for Youth was not even informed of this issue prior to the undertaking of the moves. Yet, in her youthconnect strategy, GLBTIQ is specifically mentioned in that plan, so both on that aspect and also on the fact that it is a key youth program overseen by this government, you would have thought that the Minister for Youth would have some stake in this and certainly at least be consulted. If she has not been consulted, then goodness knows what level of information the young people involved in this service got.
With that, I thank members for their support. I am glad that this motion is looking to pass this council. I certainly hope that the assurances that we have do not dissolve into weasel words, though.