New program enables WA Aids Council to offer support to Bunbury LGBTIQA+ youth

'Inclusion without exclusion': Western Australian AIDS Council Bunbury counsellor Leigh Stevens and Bunbury community development officer Nathan Papas. Photo: Pip Waller.
'Inclusion without exclusion': Western Australian AIDS Council Bunbury counsellor Leigh Stevens and Bunbury community development officer Nathan Papas. Photo: Pip Waller.

LGBTIQA+ youth are set to benefit from a new support program run by the Western Australian Aids Council that according to chief executive Lisa Dobrin would "literally, save lives".

As part of a state government-funded pilot program, youths aged 12 to 25 in Bunbury, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie-Boulder will soon be able to access a variety of services to ensure they feel supported and safe in their community.

WAAC is an organisation that aims to build healthy, inclusive, connected communities.

Ms Dobrin said the pilot program was the non-profit's "first foray" into the regions.

"The 12-month project is such a big win for us and I suppose for all young people because it shows that there is a need to expand these services all over WA," Ms Dobrin said.

"Research and data tells us that young LGBTIQA+ people have greater impacts on their mental health, their wellbeing and their lives and we need to do as much as we can to raise awareness and advocate for those people for the supports that they need and desperately deserve."

Council counsellor Leigh Stevens and community development officer Nathan Papas are the faces of the new program and will be based at Headspace Bunbury on Spencer Street.

While Ms Stevens will offer "a free, safe, accepting and non-judgmental counselling service", Mr Papas will focus on offering the community information sessions and workshops to increase support in the LGBTIQA+ space.

"It's a real privilege to be able to be able to work in Bunbury to try and help support and strengthen what's happening here for LGBTIQA+ young people," Mr Papas said.

Safe - Included - Respected: The three core values of the WA Aids Council. Photo: Pip Waller.

Safe - Included - Respected: The three core values of the WA Aids Council. Photo: Pip Waller.

"We're really excited to have a lot of fun and paint the town rainbow."

Ms Dobrin said more lives needed to be saved, and particularly the lives of young, LGBTIQA+ people.

"We can't keep losing them to suicide, and allowing them to experience the mental impacts they do. It's not acceptable on any level and that's why this sort of program is needed."

Mr Papas can be contacted via npapas@waac.com.au and Ms Stevens at lstevens@waac.com.au.

If anything in this story has upset you, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more information on the program, scan the QR code.

For more information on the program, scan the QR code.

This story LGBTIQA+ funding supports regional youth first appeared on Bunbury Mail.