Call for greater LGBTQIA+ inclusion in mainstream health services

Released on 1st April 2022

cohealth, who this week won a national award as LGBTQIA+ health and wellbeing Service Provider of the Year, is encouraging all health services to value and celebrate diversity and embed inclusive practice into health service delivery.  

cohealth accepted the Service Provider of the Year award at the inaugural Australian Pride in Health + Wellbeing Awardson Wednesday 30 March, at which Victorian Commissioner for LGBTIQ+ Communities Todd Fernando delivered a keynote address. 

The Awards are produced by Pride in Health + Wellbeing, the national not-for-profit inclusion program for the health, wellbeing, human services, and community care sector, spearheaded by Australia’s largest LGBTQ health organisation ACON.   

In accepting the award, cohealth Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz acknowledged the leadership of the Australian Government Department of Health in sponsoring these awards and highlighting the need for quality health care for the LGBTQIA+ community.   

Ms Bartholomeusz said that there was still much work to be done to improve LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and cohealth would continue to address the health disparity experienced by people who are sexually- and gender-diverse, and to provide culturally safe health and wellbeing services. 

“Paradoxically, while people from the LGBTQIA+ community have greater health needs, they face some of the greatest barriers to healthcare support,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

“Many feel reluctant to engage with health services for fear of discrimination, or a feeling that their health and social needs won’t be understood.” 

“As a mainstream service, we understand the importance of creating a culturally safe environment where people – coworkers, clients and community members –  feel able to bring their whole selves, including recognition of their gender identity and sexuality,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

cohealth was awarded the Pride in Health + Wellbeing prize for its commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion as demonstrated through – among other things: 

  • its Rainbow Tick accreditation 
  • an active peer support group for staff who identify as LGBTQIA+ 
  • a raft of internal systems and frameworks which monitor inclusive practice, and identify risks for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ 
  • a group of community advisors who provide objective insights on LGBTQIA+ issues 
  • the establishment of several queer-specific health programs, including a mental health program led by ‘peer navigators’ and a sexual rights and health promotion program 

cohealth also prides itself on its strong peer workforce, which sees many of its programs and services delivered by people who bring lived experience expertise to their job. 

“This award means so much to everyone at cohealth because that is recognition that our coworkers practice in a way that honours the needs of each individual, and validates our commitment to a workforce that represents the community we serve,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

“While receiving this award a momentous occasion for cohealth, it is not the end of our journey,” said Ms Bartholomeusz. 

“We are committed to improving and focusing on LGBTQIA+ inclusion into the future – understanding that discrimination is every bit a health issue.” 


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More information: or 0418 552 377

About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs as well as statewide.

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