The Green Party is pledging $5 million in school-based support for queer and gender-diverse youth as part of a youth mental health package. The party wants to fill a hole in youth mental health services which allows LGBT students to fall through the cracks.
The proposal is backed up by a report from government-owned research body SuperU into the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Program (YMHP), which noted "other youth populations that were less well-served by YMHP, particularly youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or inter-sex (LGBTI)."
Research shows LGBT youth are less likely to seek help at schools and three times more likely to self-harm. Just over half reported self-harming in the past year.
"Our young people are being short-changed by a society that is still not catering to their needs, especially by the Prime Minister's Youth Mental Health Project which seems to overlook queer kids and their health needs," Green Party rainbow spokeswoman Jan Logie said. "We need to ensure that every student is safe at school, and that our schools are contributing towards breaking down stigma and discrimination against gender and sexuality," Logie said.
The $5 million would go towards establishing and developing peer-led programmes and support.
It's understood the Green Party are keen to bait Prime Minister Bill English - a conservative catholic who voted against same sex marriage and civil union legislation - into commenting on LGBT issues.
On Monday the Green Party launched a wider youth mental health policy that included free counselling for all under-25s and increased funding for mental health staff. "Free counselling for any young person who wants to talk about the ups and downs they are experiencing with a trained professional will make a huge difference to people's wellbeing," leader James Shaw said.
The Green Party's preferred coalition partner Labour have a rainbow youth policy of their own. They promise "real action" to make schools safe for LGBT youth including new support and intervention in schools. They would also ask the Education Review Office's to look at rainbow youth wellbeing as an indicator at schools. Labour do not put a dollar amount on these promises however.
The National Party do not have a specific policy on LGBT youth.