• Michelle and Drift from the 'Smoke Free Still Fierce' campaign. (ACON)Source: ACON
Calls to make queer women's health a priority come in the lead-up to next week’s Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference in Melbourne.
Drew Sheldrick

20 May 2016 - 9:38 AM  UPDATED 20 May 2016 - 9:38 AM

Victoria’s gender and sexuality commissioner Rowena Allen, health researchers and LGBTQI advocates have called for better health outcomes for lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women, drawing attention to gaps in research and services, and the poorer health outcomes these groups face.

It comes ahead of next week’s Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference in Melbourne, which Commissioner Allen said would be a chance to address some of these health issues.

“We need a response that includes targeted programs considering the unique needs of LBQ women, and we need research to support that response. Funding better health outcomes for LBQ women must become a priority,” she said.

“The overwhelming response to last year’s inaugural LBQ Women’s Health Conference is a testament to how much the community wants and needs this important dialogue. Expanding the scope of the conference to a national level in this second year is a promising sign we’re moving in the right direction.”

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Director of HIV and sexual health at ACON, Karen Price, said LBQ women have higher rates of smoking, higher rates of substance use, poorer mental health and lower screening participation rates.

"We also know that this subpopulation is not effectively reached by mainstream health messaging or
campaigns,” Price said.

“For those of us working to maximise the health and wellbeing of LBQ Women, we know there’s a big job
ahead of us to ensure our communities’ health issues are better understood by decision makers.”

Earlier this month, a new tobacco reduction campaign targeting LBQ women was launched in Sydney. The '#SmokeFreeStillFierce' campaign is an attempt to tackle what health advocates refer to as "alarmingly high" smoking rates for LBQ women.

The Cancer Institute of NSW provided funding to ACON to develop the specifically targeted campaign. Researchers from the University of Sydney also assisted in its development.

The LBQ Women’s Health Conference will take place on Friday, May 27 in Melbourne.

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