THE Wimmera’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people will now have more support with a new youth worker at headspace Horsham.
The organisation has partnered with Wimmera Pride Project to create support programs for LGBTI people between the ages of 12 and 25.
Pride project co-founder Maddi Ostapiw will work at headspace as the organisation’s new LGBTI youth support worker.
Ms Ostapiw said the role was needed in the region.
“There is an increasing number of LGBTI young people in the community,” she said.
“There can be negative effects on these people when they received negative feedback from the community, which can lead to mental health risks,” she said.
“They need someone they can go to safely – there is a massive service gap.”
Ms Ostapiw said through headspace, she hoped to create a support group and work with schools.
She will also design a training package for other headspace staff.
“I started in the role last week, but I’m already achieving goals that the Wimmera Pride Project spent two years trying to get off the ground,” she said.
“The pride project can now achieve a lot more by working with an organisation with resources and trained staff.”
Ms Ostapiw said she hoped her work would lead to more inclusion in the community and reduced rates of mental health issues.
She said in small communities, many LGBTI people had no support.
“Since we started the pride project, people have come out of the woodwork, who were never visible before,” she said.
“There was no safe services before and people won’t make themselves known if they don’t feel safe.
“Hopefully we can deliver better mental health outcomes for the community as well.”
Headspace Horsham operations and clinic manager Jason Pelcher said before this role, people had to travel out of the region to get support.
“We are also looking at ways we can support parents of young people, because there is no group for that, as well as carers and other family members,” he said.