The meeting in Sydney with a similar group to ours was reassuring in that they were experiencing many of the same changes in the way that their services were meeting community needs (see the previous blog entry).
I was interested in their role in providing alcohol and drug counselling services that are not exclusively targeted to the queer community.
They work out of a large house in central Newtown funded for a bequest some years ago. Having a base like this makes it easier for them to run this type of counselling service, with enough space for the phone helpline service, drop-in groups, staff office space. They also rent space to a queer youth group called Twenty10.
I think this raises issues we need to consider in our future strategies. The recent AIDS Foundation review identified the lack of mental health support as a major gap.
An observation from my limited experience is that mainstream drug and alcohol help services are not set up to dig past the obvious… so I suspect that the chances of a queer client getting any acknowledgement or help with deep seated problems arising from being queer are low.
What is the future role of our group? The strategy meeting early next year is a good opportunity for us all to debate what we see as important ways we could change. I hope you can all come alone and participate. Chris