Call for LGBTQI people in regional and rural areas to reach out for help

Switchboard general manager Jo Ball.

Switchboard general manager Jo Ball.

One of Victoria’s main LGBTQI support services has seen an “unprecedented” jump in demand during the same-sex marriage postal survey.

Switchboard general manger Jo Ball said the organisation had recruited and trained an extra 16 counsellors to meet a 30 per cent increase in people seeking help via phone, web chat and email.

“I can say that overnight when they announced it was going to be a postal plebiscite we immediately got more calls and that has just increased day by day,” Mx Ball said.

“The demand has been particularly strong since people started receiving the ballot in their letterbox.”

The manager said LGBTQI people in regional and rural areas often struggled and felt more isolated than those in cities. They urged people not to wait too long to make a call if they needed to talk.

“You don’t have to be alone,” Mx Ball said. “You don’t have to have had a big crisis. You can just say ‘this is how it made me feel when I got the paper in the mail’. You may feel alone, and maybe you feel more alone in a regional area but you’re not.”

Mx Ball said nearly all the people contacting the service mentioned the postal survey.

“For a lot of people what this has brought back for them is feelings and experiences they’ve had throughout their life of discrimination and prejudice,” they said. “It’s become a vote on our lives and how we choose to live them.” South-west organisation Brophy Family and Youth Services, which provides LGBTQI support, has also seen a spike in the number of people seeking support since the postal survey started.

  • Contact switchboard for LGBTQI support on 1800 184 527