24 March 2020
The team at Rainbow Health Victoria would like to acknowledge the difficult time we all face with the current public health crisis caused by coronavirus (COVID-19). We are thinking of you all and know you are working hard to accommodate changing circumstances and to combat the spread and impact of this infection.
The current situation is understandably causing stress and uncertainty throughout all our communities. Within this, LGBTIQ communities experience poorer mental health and higher rates of suicide and self-harm, and could be at greater risk in relation to experiences of anxiety, depression and isolation.
We know already that older people, and those with underlying health issues, are at greater risk. LGBTIQ communities experience health disparities in areas such as HIV prevalence, risk for certain cancers, asthma, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Smoking rates have also been shown to be higher than the general population. These are all risks associated with coronavirus health outcomes. In addition, crises such as this often impact more on those who are already socially and economically disadvantaged. For example, homelessness and unemployment are more prevalent in LGBTIQ communities, and the economic effects of coronavirus may also impact our communities disproportionately.
At this time, accessing available health and community support services will be more important than ever for LGBTIQ communities. But barriers to accessing services, such as anticipating or experiencing discrimination, may be heightened at times of stress.
Rainbow Health Victoria is asking organisations committed to supporting LGBTIQ communities to reach out and let people know that they are welcome at your service. Communication could include informing people about how your service might change, encouraging self-care and staying connected online while practicing ‘social distancing’, and sharing useful resources and links as these come to hand.
At Rainbow Health Victoria, we have ceased all face-to-face training and events and have moved rapidly to alternatives. We are in a good position to foster ongoing online engagement and the creation of new learning communities.
We will be using interactive online technologies to allow communities of practice to continue. This will include activities being undertaken by Rainbow Network, Val’s LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care, and our family and intimate partner violence program. We are looking at expanding these offerings in coming weeks to meet the needs of organisations and services.
We can also now offer all our regular training programs remotely, using interactive webinars. With many staff working from home, organisations and services may be interested in ways to keep staff engaged while also continuing their journey to greater LGBTIQ inclusion. We also have an online training module available for organisations to access. Please visit our training programs page for more information.
If there is anything we can do to further support you please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, thank you for your ongoing work supporting LGBTIQ communities.
Director, Rainbow Health Victoria