Gender and sexuality diverse (GSD) people are a priority in the National Drug Strategy, and other strategies related to AOD use. Notably, research demonstrates a, ‘higher prevalence of AOD use by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, riskier use and a higher proportion have accessed AOD treatment’ (Freestone et al. 2021). There has also been a lack of demographic data collected about gender and sexuality diverse people accessing AOD services nationally, given it historically hasn’t been a compulsory requirement in the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set. A result is that, ‘the treatment needs, experiences and outcomes of LGBTQ people remain largely invisible’ (Freestone et al. 2021).While these demographic questions will be made available for services in July 2023, and compulsory in 2024, there is ongoing need to support workers in understanding and asking these questions.
Whilst organisational and individual members of the GSD AOD Network have undertaken a range of activities to ensure AOD services-including NADA members- are providing inclusive services, there is still crucial further work to be done in this area. A 2018 workforce study by NADA found that 15% of non government AOD workers in NSW identified as gender and/or sexuality diverse. The Network provides an opportunity for those workers to come together in a safe and supportive environment.
This network provides a space for those working in the AOD field who are part of GSD communities to support one another in their everyday work (with co-workers and clients), and to foster discussions about how to make AOD services more GSD inclusive.
About the network
In December 2019, NADA held the inaugural Gender and Sexuality Diverse AOD Network. The membership currently comprises of GSD workers in the AOD space. The group includes, but is not limited to, those providing frontline services, management, administration and research.
At the first meeting workers agreed that the network has a dual purpose to:
provide a supportive network for gender and sexuality diverse workers in the AOD sector
improve AOD services for gender and sexuality diverse people.
I am passionate about both the AOD sector and the gender and sexuality diverse community, so to have them come together is very exciting. For me, being a part of this network means I can participate, advocate, educate and learn from both spaces at the same time. I also believe the establishment of this network will trickle down to improved client experiences through visibility, education and increased representation throughout different spaces in the sector. I am looking forward to being a part of this journey!
For more information or to join the network, please email Hannah Gillard. Network membership is open to gender and/or sexuality diverse people who participate in AOD work (such as research, admin and frontline work).
Would you like to ensure your services are more inclusive for gender and sexuality diverse people?
References Freestone, J, Mooney-Somers, J, and Hudson, S (2021) ‘The sector is ready, and the community needs Australian alcohol and other drug treatment services to ask about sexuality and gender identity’, Drug and Alcohol Review, https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.13367
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