Merri Community Health ServicesMerri Community Health Services (MCHS) has been working to provide services that meet the needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (GLBTIQ) clients.

MCHS formed a working group in May 2013 with staff from various program areas to review how inclusive their services are for GLBTIQ people and how they could improve.

MCHS supports diversity in the community and respects all individuals’ needs, wants and aspirations. They understand that GLBTIQ people generally have worse health outcomes due to the discrimination and abuse they experience in society.  The general health of gay men and lesbians is lower than the national average. GLBTIQ people are at an increased risk of various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety disorders, self-harm and suicide. The GLBTIQ community is well represented amongst their staff.

What they have done:

  • Run internal training on the needs and experiences of GLBTIQ people conducted by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria – 85 staff, volunteers, and students have attended training to date, with over 40 people enrolled in two more sessions
  • Reviewed over 80 of their forms and brochures and the found majority already used inclusive  language and images
  • Developed a policy and procedure for staff on providing GLBTIQ inclusive services
  • Made sites more welcoming
  • Consulted with the GLBTIQ community through face-to-face sessions and an online survey
  • Looked at how to respond to feedback from the community
  • Developed a team presentation to encourage discussion about how to be more inclusive
  • Surveyed staff about their attitudes and how to improve their services
  • Promoted a range of GLBTIQ-specific services to staff that clients can be informed about

MCHS provides a range of general services that are GLBTIQ friendly and that clients are welcome to access. They are free or low-cost, including dental, allied health, family services, counselling, carer support and respite services.  In addition, MCHS has some GLBTIQ-specific services and projects, including:

  • YGLAM – a GLBTIQ youth performing arts program
  • Diversity Out North – a social support program for GLBTIQ curious youths or those questioning their sexuality and/or gender
  • Their counselling team is organising a regional counselling network forum on working with same-sex couples
  • Their human relations education programs in school include discussions around same-sex attraction and gender questioning.

MCHS is also working towards Rainbow Tick accreditation this month so stay tuned! If you are interested in volunteering, have feedback, or want more information about their services, visit their website: