Page 3944 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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Right now, the LGBTIQ community is one of the areas I feel I must talk about. That community is at the centre of conversations in many Australian lounge rooms. It is vitally important that those people all feel supported, accepted and able to participate in the community without fear of discrimination. This is why I support the efforts of the ACT government to demonstrate the community’s support through the period of the postal survey. Additional funds for counselling and support for this group are well warranted. We have seen this week a spike in demand for support services from the group. ReachOut, an organisation offering online support for young people and their families across a broad spectrum of health needs, has experienced a 20 per cent increase in people accessing LGBTIQ support services, as have other support services such as QLife.

Research on LGBTIQ health generally in Australia has revealed higher than average rates of substance abuse and poorer mental health, especially depression, anxiety and suicide, with discrimination against LGBTIQ people being a key factor. However, it is worth noting that LGBTIQ people are over-represented in many areas of social exclusion, not just on mental health issues. Current discrimination and stigma can extend to less access to education and employment, and harassment and violence on public transport and in the street. There is emerging evidence that they are over-represented in the homeless population.

The biggest barrier to accessing services and participating in the community for this population group is discrimination, or the quite justified fear of it. This is why the Greens are publicly supporting the yes campaign in the ACT and publicly supporting the ACT government in its support. It has been consistent with our policy over many, many years.

I will now move to refugees. The Greens have been known for their support for refugees and asylum seekers. We are the only consistent voice at the national level speaking out against offshore detention. I was particularly proud when, in the last sitting period, Minister Rattenbury’s motion to write to the federal government requesting that it immediately remove all refugees and asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru and bring all refugees and asylum seekers to Australia to be resettled in Australia’s 148 refugee welcome zones, including Canberra, was supported.

We are the only state or territory government to support such a motion. We can hope that the other jurisdictions follow suit, as this appalling treatment of our fellow human beings—asylum seekers—has to stop. The barriers to participation for this group are profound, if they can even get to the country. For those who have been accepted as humanitarian entrants, we must strive to provide them with the supports they need to be able to participate. The expansion of the English language program and the job brokerage services are ways to do that.

I have talked about the disadvantages faced by women on numerous occasions in this chamber already. We know about the gender pay gap. We know that single-parent households are more likely to be headed by women. We know that women have lower rates of full-time work and lower retirement savings. We know that older single women are emerging as being at a high risk of experiencing homelessness.

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