Mary-Anne Land (PHAA) and Brahm Marjadi (PHAA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion SIG Convenor)
“Improving the availability and accuracy of health data is one of the greatest opportunities we have to help people live longer, healthier lives. The more we know about causes of death and illness, the better we can target resources and measure progress” Michael R. Bloomberg – WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases.
Census 2021 takes place on Tuesday 10 August – every five years, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) counts every person and household in Australia. The census form asks questions to provide a snapshot of the social, cultural and economic make-up of our country. This data underpins government decision making and resource allocation for areas including healthcare services and delivery and social services planning.
But can evidence-informed decision making and resource allocation transpire without an adequate picture of Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and related people (LGBTQIA+) populations?
Experience and fear of discrimination, stigma, harassment, abuse and violence stemming from homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and discrimination against intersex persons leads to poorer physical and mental health and wellbeing outcomes for LGBTQIA+ people compared to the general population.
Evidence of poorer physical and mental health and wellbeing outcomes for LGBTQIA+ people when compared with the general population or other comparable groups includes:
- Higher rates of suicide ideation and self-harm, higher rates of depression and anxiety disorders
- Higher rates of homelessness
- Higher rates of discrimination and reduced service access among LGBTQIA+ people with disability compared with non- LGBTQIA+ people with disability and LGBTQIA+ people without disability
- Higher rates of substance use disorders
- Twice as high rates of tobacco use
- Higher rates of stress linked to poor health outcomes
- Higher rates of discrimination and abuse
- Higher prevalence of intimate partner violence against transgender and intersex people compared to lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who are not transgender
While Australian and international research provide evidence that demonstrate significant concern regarding mental health outcomes among LGBTQIA+ people, significant knowledge gaps remain. This is due to the exclusion of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in population research, data collection in mental health services and in national population-based data collections, i.e. the Census.
Asking appropriate questions on sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in the Census is crucial for evidence-informed service planning and understanding health and social service utilisation. This is essential in addressing the significant health disparities that LGBTQIA+ people experience.
LGBTIQ+ HEALTH AUSTRALIA and Equality Australia have launched a petition to send a message to our Government to stop leaving LGBTQIA+ behind, and #CountUsIn the Australian Census (2026).
If this issue raises concerns for you, you can get help by contacting:
Lifeline available 24/7
- Phone: 13 11 14
- Webchat: https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-chat/
- Textchat: https://www.lifeline.org.au/crisis-text/
QLife between 3pm and midnight every day:
- Phone: 1800 184 527
- Webchat: https://qlife.org.au/resources/chat
- Referral Directory: https://qlife.org.au/resources/directory
Photo Credit: ABS 2021 Census.