Department of Health

Key messages

  • The Geelong Adolescent Sexuality Project(GASP) project has provided individual support for hundreds of young people in Geelong
  • Gasp has supported schools and agencies to develop more inclusive service provision and practice, started a parent support group, and provided a support group for LGBTI young people in Geelong for 18 years.
  • GASP supports services, agencies and schools to develop more inclusive practices and create safe and welcoming environments.
  • GASP has initiated community-wide activities to address discrimination and celebrate diversity across the community, including raising the rainbow flag on City Hall and developing the Strength in Diversity campaign for the City of Greater Geelong.

Background

The GASP project started as a support group in Geelong in 1998, as it had become clear that there were a number of LGBTI young people experiencing marginalisation and significant mental health issues. Since then, the GASP project has developed and expanded in order to respond to the needs arising for young people, schools and the service sector.

The GASP project used its own data and other research on the needs of the young people to help secure funding for the program and GASP is now fully funded through the City of Greater Geelong and the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services.

The service in brief

The GASP project:

  • Provides individual support and counselling to young people aged 12 – 25 and their families.
  • Works across the community and with mainstream service providers to encourage inclusive service provision and enable better access to services for LGBTI young people.
  • Supports young people in schools to create Stand Out groups which work towards creating safe and inclusive school environments.
  • Provides education and training for schools and promotes a whole of school approach to create safe and inclusive school environments.
  • Facilitates a social and support group of LGBTI young people.
  • Provides education, training and support to neighbouring local government areas as needs arise.

The GASP project aims to support services, agencies and schools to develop more inclusive practices and to create safe and welcoming environments. This has included inviting nine agencies to take part in the GLHV HOW2? program, and influencing the development of policy and strategic plans for local government and the Department of Health & Human Services.

Achievements

The GASP project has provided individual support for hundreds of young people in Geelong, supported schools and agencies to develop more inclusive service provision and practice, started a local Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gay people (PFLAG) chapter, and provided a support group for LGBTI young people in Geelong. GASP has also initiated many community-wide activities to address discrimination and celebrate diversity across the community, including raising the rainbow flag on City Hall and developing the Strength in Diversity campaign for the City of Greater Geelong.

Case studies

The following case studies demonstrate the benefits of GASP for LGBTI young people in Geelong.

Ben*

When Ben was 14 years old, he came out as gay and was consequently kicked out of home. Ben now resides with another family member, but has been told that he ‘must be straight’ to continue to live there. The school made a referral to GASP for ‘low moods’ and self-harming behaviours. Ben asked the GASP worker to please “make me straight so my family can like me again and my life can be normal”. Ben attended six sessions with GASP’s Individual Support worker, exploring his sense of self and creating space for him to ‘be himself’ and talk about things that he felt were relevant to him. Ben became more confident in himself during the time working with GASP and has become part of the school council and Stand Out group which is also supported by the GASP Project. He hasn’t self- harmed for approximately 6 months. Ben is now able to identify that his sexuality is not a problem, and that not being accepted by his family is what causes him anxiety and stress.

Rachel*

GASP received a referral for a 22 year old trans young person, Rachel, from the local Youth Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol service. Rachel presented at the Emergency Department after an episode of severe suicidal ideations. The referral was a part of the crisis care plan to access support and information in relation to gender identity and affirmation.

Rachel attended four weekly appointments and accessed information and support for both herself and her parents. A short time later the Youth Mental Health service re-assessed her suicide risk and found it significantly reduced.

Rachel returned to GASP to attend a pilot Trans and Gender Diverse support group six months later, and returned for an individual session during the following six months. She attended a third session six months later joined the GASP and Quest (over 18) groups.

This case demonstrates the importance and benefits for young people of providing a flexible service that can address their individual needs. Rachel experienced high anxiety, which inhibited her ability to ‘come out’ to her parents. Remaining in contact with the GASP project has allowed Rachel to take control of the process herself, to go at her own pace and continue to access information and support when required. Rachel is now able to regularly attend groups which previously were not an option for her due to her anxiety.

Reviewed 09 September 2015

Health.vic

Contact details

International, interstate and mobile callers: +61 3 9096 9000

Diversity team Department of Health

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