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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

Journal article

The time for inclusive care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQ+ young people is now

Aboriginal Australian youth LGBTI LGBTIQ rights Health services accessibility Indigenous health Australia

Where does a young, LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other non‐heteronormative or non‐binary sexual and gender identities, including asexual) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person go for health care in Australia? Do they attend an Aboriginal community controlled health organisation in search of culturally sensitive care? Or do they visit an LGBTQ+‐friendly health service to access staff trained in sexual and gender diversity? Is there a space for them, and other LGBTQ+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, in the Australian health care landscape? These questions are being posed by Indigenous LGBTQ+ health advocates.

Key Findings:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQ+ young people occupy three intersecting identities, which, when considered separately, are each linked to risks for poor health. The risks for poor physical health and social emotional wellbeing among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are well documented. Within Australia, LGBTQ+ individuals experience heightened suicidality, serious assault, homelessness and psychological distress, compared with their heterosexual, cisgender peers. These increased health risks do not indicate inherent vulnerability but rather are outcomes of discrimination, marginalisation, racism, transphobia and homophobia.
  • Although health care workers may be aware of the health risks associated with being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTQ+ or young, the health outcomes for someone with these intersecting identities remain largely unknown. Emerging literature has begun to identify the health concerns of people who are both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and LGBTQ+, although this work is thus far limited to adults.
  • Adopting an intersectional approach to health care requires practitioners to consider the relationship between multiple structural inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQ+ young people, and downstream consequences for this group's wellbeing. Doing so will likely require additional training and professional development.
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