Working better with LGBQ young people in AOD treatment services


In 2016-17 YSAS conducted a census of the psychosocial complexity facing young people in the Victorian and Queensland youth alcohol and other drug systems. The results of over 2500 young people enrolled in the services at this time show the complexity present in these young people’s lives in terms of family, education and employment, criminal behaviour, housing support, mental health and of course substance use. An important element of our analysis focused on identifying and understanding the characteristics of young people whose sexual identity was characterized as GLBQ. The results highlight that in all ways but one, the GLBQ identified cohort were similar to other vulnerable young people needing support for substance use. The differentiating factor was the marked (often doubled) risk of mental health issues, suicide attempts and self-injury in these young people. This raises the question, why just this factor when complexity is typically interconnected. This workshop will question the reasons underlying this spike decontextualised from other risk factors. Further, I need your help in understanding why our workers so infrequently know that their clients identify as GLBQ, despite all the evidence indicating the relative risks associated with being a part of the GLBQ population. This will be a workshop of questions and activities to better understand why youth AOD workers do not ask about sexuality, about why they should and how we can change this practice to reduce risks, better understand and ultimately support this group of young people with substance use issues.


Karen Hallam |

Dr Karen Hallam has been researching, treating and working to improve the mental health of vulnerable young Australians for fifteen years. Karen is a Senior Research Fellow at YSAS and is currently on disadvantage and substance use in young people with an emphasis on improving outcomes for LGBTIQ young people.


Cassie Davies