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RAD Australia: empowering LGBTIQ people to seek the wellbeing deserved

By Dani Wright Toussaint, Freedom Centre Coordinator RAD Australia Website

RAD Australia is a LGBTIQ* referral database website developed by the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre’s LGBTIQ Help-Seeking project team that is comprised of several partners: Twenty10, WA AIDS Council’s Freedom Centre, Western Sydney University, Curtin University’s Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health.

Freedom Centre and Twenty10 have been working to support the wellbeing of LGBTIQ young people for decades and have seen first-hand how seeking help can mean facing some huge hurdles and barriers. We saw an opportunity to contribute to a solution with the Young and Well CRC and their partners, who aimed to promote the mental wellbeing of young people in Australia through evidence based new technologies.

Initial research for the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre’s LGBTIQ Help-Seeking project was conducted in 2015 with LGBTIQ young people and mental health service providers about their needs. Research shows that particularly trans people, gender diverse people, intersex people and all other members of LGBTIQ populations face significant barriers in mental health help-seeking, and that their needs are often unmet by existing digital tools and services for mental health support.

Then we found RAD Remedy (USA) and saw in action what our research told us to do in Australia. We were very kindly given access to the open source coding that makes up their website so that we could adapt it to suit Australian needs and evidence. The name ‘RAD Australia’ is shorthand for ‘Referral Aggregator Database Australia’ and is a derivative of RAD Remedy USA’s name.

RAD Australia is dedicated to connecting trans, gender diverse, intersex, queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual and other sexuality and gender diverse (LGBTIQ)* people to accurate, safe, respectful, and comprehensive care and support in order to improve individual and community health and wellbeing.

RAD Australia connects to an existing culture of peer referral and provides greater access to a wider population of LGBTIQ people. Because peer referral is highly regarded and trusted by many LGBTIQ people, RAD Australia has the potential to improve access to professional services for LGBTIQ people who need this. Reviews and listings added by LGBTIQ people have begun and we can’t wait to see the user-generated content build up more.

As well as for LGBTIQ people, RAD Australia will be a valuable resource for health professionals and services. For those included in the directory, it will assist their own referral practices and encourage consideration of how they can further support the needs of LGBTIQ people. For health professionals not listed, RAD Australia provides referral options to ensure that LGBTIQ people are referred on to experienced service providers. It also offers resources for development and guidance in working with LGBTIQ populations, and an invitation to build and extend professional networks.

LGBTIQ young people participating in our research noted the need for a broader approach to mental health and wellbeing that does not solely focus on mental health services. The directory will therefore include LGBTIQ-friendly sites that are not limited to the health sector, but which encompass community services and a range of safe spaces and peer-based communities and other services we seek to feel good and keep well. It was also noted that all ages of LGBTIQ people could benefit from the tool so the youth focus is being removed for the future of RAD Australia.

‘You learn from each other’ reports our research findings on the experiences of LGBTIQ young people seeking help for mental health, how technology can promote mental health and reduce barriers for help-seeking and the development of RAD Australia. It will be released in coming weeks – see www.radaustralia.org.au 

*We use LGBTIQ as a recognisable acronym to refer to trans, gender non-binary, intersex, queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, questioning and other sexuality and gender diverse people, regardless of their terms of identification.

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