The VITAL Project

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 Although most LGBTIQ Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number of people in the LGBTIQ community experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers. Specifically, LGBTIQ populations have a heightened risk of mental health diagnosis, psychological distress, self‐harm, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts. Snapshot of Mental Health and Suicide

Prevention Statistics for LGBTI People, prepared by the National LGBTI Health Alliance, provides an overview of what evidence is currently available on the mental health outcomes of LGBTIQ people in Australia Historically LGBTIQ populations have been relatively invisible in mental health and suicide prevention strategies, policies and frameworks, and thus excluded from project and programmes responses.  


find out more about vital


The VITAL project seeks to reduce the impact of mental distress in LGBTIQ communities. VITAL is a health promotion and suicide prevention project funded by ACT Health and focused on building a community safety net that helps prevent suicide for LGBTIQ people. VITAL will Increase the knowledge and skills of mental health service providers to respond appropriately to LGBTIQ communities in crises or in need of intervention. 

VITAL has three core components: firstly, a population health promotion campaign with local challenging community members to reframe their mental health as an indicator of their health vitality signs. Secondly, LGBTIQ inclusion workforce training for mental health professionals improving the LGBTIQ literacy of support services available in the ACT. The VITAL project also provides an increase in counselling services available through Westlund Counselling to provide direct aftercare services for LGBTIQ people identified and refereed by mental health professionals.


Based on the Black Dog Institute's Lifespan model, this approach combines nine strategies that have strong evidence for suicide prevention into one community-led approach incorporating health, education, frontline services, business and the community.

Lifespan circle

Why should we care about the impacts of stigma and discrimination on LGBTIQ people?
  • 49.2% of trans women and 55.3% of trans men experienced heterosexist harassment in the last 12 months
  • 33.1% of lesbian, gay and bisexual people experienced the same.
  • 10.3% of LGBTIQ people reported employment or promotion barriers based on sexuality or gender experience
  • 8% of SSAGDQ* (same sex attracted, gender diverse, queer) young people between 14 and 21 years had attempted suicide,
  • 61% had experienced verbal abuse, and 18% experienced physical abuse
  • 16% of young people who identified as LGBTIQ reported suicide attempts, and 33% had harmed themselves


Rejection by families on the basis on sexual orientation or gender experience is also strongly linked with homelessness or economic instability. Growing up or living in rural and/or isolated communities exacerbated feelings of isolation, with access to support services often limited or non‐existent. 

 support is available

The VITAL Project enables Westlund Counselling and AIDS Action Council to increase our existing offering of counselling, providing greater aftercare support for LGBTIQ Canberrans, in addition to training and education opportunities for a variety of businesses and organisations across the Territory. In addition to our services, consider the following sources of support:

QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTI peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships. Call 1800 184 527 or chat online between 3pm and midnight daily.

Lifeline: 13 11 14 (available 24/7)

CAHMA is a peer based organisation concerned with the use of illicit drugs. Contact CAHMA on (02) 6279 1670 during business hours.

A Gender Agenda (AGA) provides social support, events, workshops, advocacy, training, policy advice and resources for intersex, trans and gender diverse people, their families and allies. They utilise a community development approach in our work that values the voices of lived experience.Contact AGA on (02) 6162 1924.

Directions Health Services is one of the Canberra region’s most experienced community organisations delivering programs and services to people impacted by alcohol, drugs and other addictions. Contact the Directions Team on (02) 6132 4800

headspace Queanbeyan is a free, confidential, non‐judgmental service where people from 12 to 25 years old can access qualified youth mental health professionals, offering a range of supports for young people who are experiencing a tough time or are worried about their drug and alcohol use, mental, physical or sexual well being. Contact headspace via the website, or during business hours on (02) 6298 0300.

Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.  Call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.


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AIDS Action Council acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders both past and present.


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