ACON has been funded $4.2 million by the NSW Government to establish the ACON Health Centre, a health service that will directly benefit NSW’s LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, and queer) communities. By providing a wide range of specialist health services state-wide, the ACON Health Centre will become a centre for excellence for LGBTQ+ health care in NSW.
THE ACON HEALTH CENTRE: HOW IT BEGAN
ACON has been discussing the idea of a specific Health Centre for our communities for many years. After identifying the need for such a service, ACON initially developed a business case, followed by a detailed feasibility study, with the assistance of PricewaterhouseCoopers and a high-level health sector working group. This more detailed work refined the service model and assessed the viability of a LGBTQ+ focused health service.
The study included a comprehensive consultation process with key stakeholders and health care providers, including LGBTQ+ organisations, Local Health Districts and Networks, the Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, Aboriginal Medical Services, health service providers, officials in federal and state health departments, GPs that specialise in gender-affirming care, and governing bodies like the RACGP, researchers and academics as well as LGBTQ+ community leaders and members.
The study concluded that investment from the NSW Government to establish a LGBTQ+ focused Health Centre would address health disparities for LGBTQ+ communities and significantly improve health outcomes for people of diverse sexualities and genders in NSW.
ABOUT THE ACON HEALTH CENTRE
The ACON Health Centre will deliver care specifically for LGBTQ+ people across a wide range of health issues, across NSW. It will be a safe, inclusive, person-centred, integrated and community-driven health service designed for sexuality and gender diverse people in NSW to respond directly to the health and wellbeing needs of LGBTQ+ communities.
The Centre will provide primary care and GP services alongside specialist services such as mental health, sexual health and HIV, gender affirming healthcare, alcohol and other drug support, cancer screening and other services for sexuality and gender diverse people.
THE LOCATION OF THE ACON HEALTH CENTRE
The location of the Health Centre is still to be determined. The site will be selected based on census data (where it is collected for our communities), health needs, current gaps in health service delivery for our communities, ease of access, and safety. The Health Centre will be a state-wide service through telehealth, service partnerships and shared care arrangements. Access to health services is particularly difficult for sexuality and gender diverse communities in regional and rural NSW.
THE NEED FOR A LGBTQ+ FOCUSED HEALTH CENTRE
LGBTQ+ communities experience significant health disparities when compared to the general population in Australia due to a number of systemic and societal factors.
- Frequent delays to accessing to health care, often because of a lack of sensitive and appropriate care able to meet the needs of sexuality and gender diverse people. This is especially so for trans and gender diverse people.
- An absence or lack of visibility in research and data collection in research and data collection, meaning our health needs are not understood, impacting policy and program investments and government decision making, perpetuating service access issues.
- Significantly disproportionate health outcomes when compared to the general population. For example, LGBTQ communities have 3.5 to 14 times higher suicide rates compared to the general population and there is higher use of illicit drugs, smoking and drinking at risky levels in both the short and long terms.
LGBTIQ people are almost 20 times more likely than the general population to have considered suicide in the last 12 months, and more than 10 times more likely than the general population to have attempted suicide in the same period. In the largest survey of LGBTQA+ young people aged 14-21, 71% of trans respondents reported considering suicide in the last 12 months, and 14% had attempted suicide in the same period.
The ACON Health Centre will help to improve the provision of health care to LGBTQ+ people across NSW, help increase the knowledge and capacity of health service professionals across NSW, contribute to improved health and resilience of sexuality and gender diverse communities.
THANK YOU & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS TO OUR PARTNERS
ACON acknowledges the support of NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and NSW Treasure Matt Kean, as well as Sydney MP Alex Greenwich. We are very grateful for their support.
ACON also acknowledges the guidance and expertise of the ACON Heath Centre Advisory Group, consisting of representatives from Sydney Local Health District, St. Vincent’s Health Network, Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network, The Kirby Institute and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, along with members of the ACON Board, in the design of the ACON Heath Centre and the development of the Feasibility Study. ACON also acknowledges PricewaterhouseCoopers for its assistance in conducting the Feasibility Study.
ACON, previously known as the AIDS Council of NSW, is NSW’s leading health organisation specialising in community health, inclusion and HIV responses for people of diverse sexualities and genders. Established in 1985, ACON offers a range of services to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ people – including services in the areas of HIV and sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drugs, safety and inclusion, domestic and family violence, disability, ageing, cancer prevention and screening, training and capacity building.
 ACON. 2020.Health Centre Community Survey.
 AIHW. 2018. Australia’s health 2018.
 ACON, 2013. ACON Health Outcome Strategy 2013 - 2018 Mental Health and Wellbeing.
 AIHW. 2019. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019.
 Hill et al. (2020)., pp. 50-51
 Hill AO, Lyons A, Jones J, McGowan I, Carman M, Parsons M, Power J, Bourne A (2021) Writing Themselves In 4: The health and wellbeing of LGBTQA+ young people in Australia. National report, monograph series number 124. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, p. 142