Australia voted yes: What does that mean for GPs?

Paul Hayes

16/11/2017 9:43:12 AM

The Australian people have voted in favour of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

GPs have a key role to play by helping patients throughout the ongoing path to marriage equality.
GPs have a key role to play by helping patients throughout the ongoing path to marriage equality.

‘As part of valuing diversity and inclusion, RACGP Council supports marriage equality. We recognise the absolute right of all RACGP members to hold and express their own personal views on this matter. However, the ongoing process may continue to take a toll on people in the community, particularly in terms of mental health, and GPs will be able to play a major role in assisting these patients,’ RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said.
‘We urge members to provide particular care and consideration to LGBTIQ groups during this period, and for themselves through the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration [GPMHSC] and the RACGP GP Support Program.’
A majority of 61.6% (7,817,247 people) voted ‘yes’ in the Marriage Law Postal Survey, compared to 38.4% (4,873,987 people) who voted ‘no’. A total of 12,727,920 (79.5%) eligible Australians participated in the survey.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a long-time supporter of marriage equality, praised Australians’ backing for same-sex marriage.
‘It is unequivocal, it is overwhelming,’ the Prime Minister said shortly after yesterday’s announcement. ‘They voted “yes” for fairness, commitment, love.’
The path to having marriage equality enshrined into Australia law is far from over, however, with Federal Parliament still to vote on the matter. The bill to legalise same-sex marriage has been introduced to parliament, and the Prime Minister has said the Federal Government will work to push the change through ‘before Christmas’.
‘Now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia, to get on with it. To get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do, and get this done this year. That must be our commitment,’ the Prime Minister said.
Prof Ruth McNair, a GP who works at an LGBTIQ-specific practice, echoed Dr Seidel’s comments regarding GPs’ role in the ongoing treatment of many in the community.
‘There will be relief that this part of the process is over; however, there is awareness that even a “yes” outcome will herald more difficult discussions,’ she told newsGP.
‘[GPs] need to be aware of the high level of stress and hyper vigilance being carried by so many LGBT people. This infuses every aspect of life. So we need to support and encourage finding safe spaces, time out, and facilitate counselling referral where needed.’
The RACGP has compiled a range of materials to support members in providing care to their patients and others in the community who have experienced detrimental health impacts during the marriage equality debate. These include an RACGP curriculum contextual unit, numerous Australian Family Physician (AFP) and Good Practice articles, education modules, clinical guidelines, and other RACGP-endorsed content.
Other resources for GPs and LGBTQI patients
The National LGBTI Health Alliance offers a number of professional development, education and training courses. Other resources include:

  • QLife – counselling and referral service for LGBTIQ people that provides early intervention, peer-supported phone and web-based services to people of all ages
  • Wingmen – mental health support hub for gay men
  • Carer Gateway – national online and phone service that provides practical information and resources for carers
  • MindOUT – develops and delivers national suicide-prevention initiatives aimed at building the capacity of the mental health and suicide prevention sectors to meet the support and wellbeing needs of LGBTIQ populations
  • Silver Rainbow – provides national coordination and support activities promoting the wellbeing of older LGBTIQ people and the delivery of the awareness training to the aged care sector
  • headspace – provides early-intervention mental health services to people aged 12–25, including a number of resources for LGBTIQ people
  • beyondblue – provides several mental health resources for LGBTIQ people
  • ReachOut – online mental health organisation for young people and their parents that provides practical support, tools and tips, including for LGBTIQ people

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Arshad Merchant   17/11/2017 8:39:31 AM

I am not sure why college is involving itself in the politics where it should be looking after its members with further increase in their work load without any financial support from government to GP services... GPs are already providing holistic care to its patient without any discrimination of sex, race, skin colour or religious believes etc..
Please support GPs as specialist and respect & acknowledge their effort.

Ramchandra Prasad   17/11/2017 9:17:13 AM

The resources mentioned above are very helpful to understand and help during consultations. I appreciate the efforts of the college in putting this information in a nutshell.

Elizabeth   17/11/2017 2:05:26 PM

The college is being overly politicised and may do better to instead concentrate on core business - looking after the interests of GPs and their patients. And why the need to communicate via "health journalist" intermediaries to spin the topic?

Farhad   17/11/2017 3:34:54 PM

Thanks for keeping me informed on this issue. This list is very helpful.

Ruth McNair   17/11/2017 5:51:32 PM

Supporting LGBT patients effectively in general practice is not a political issue. It requires a degree of specific awareness about the context of their lives, skills to sensitively inquire about issues of discrimination or marginalisation, and knowledge of LGBT specific referral networks. Excellent care is not just the absence of discrimination, but the inclusion of LGBTI specific competence.

Peter Strickland   18/11/2017 2:41:00 PM

the RACGP now has to support the majority heterosexual population even further with the same -sex marriage postal survey, and not start becoming more political here with the minority LGBIQ community. Thousands of years of understanding marriage and its obligations are under pressure with respect to children knowing and understanding their inheritance characteristics, and being brought up by their genetic parents. There are serious implications here, and doctors will need to support these children even more with identifying their genetic coding in to this century and beyond so those children will know their origins and history of their forbears, and not suffer being unable to determine their racial and other origins when they are being brought up in this LGBTIQ community, and not knowing their true parents.

Dr Christopher Roy-Chowdhury   18/11/2017 7:09:13 PM

I don't care. I will give medical support if needed but will not accept the concept as I was brought up as a good Christian and Native Indian faith.
It is my up bringing and parents teaching which I cannot change. I sm sorry.

Leila   19/11/2017 4:10:56 PM

The college needs to maintain a better balance and not become politicians. Stats are 38% voted no.
Are we supporting the no voters emotional love beliefs or are we to desert them? We need as a college to focus and diagnose, treat and manage based on the realities of best normal physical, biochemical and physiological function and mental health of ALL human beings.
As Shakespeare said:"Love is heavy and light, bright and dark, hot and cold, sick and healthy, asleep and awake - it's everything except what it is!

Normal Bean   19/11/2017 11:14:33 PM

"We recognise the absolute right of all RACGP members to hold and express their own personal views on this matter. However, the ongoing process may continue to take a toll on people in the community, particularly in terms of mental health..."

What if we believe that gay/trans people have mental health issues? I fear already to voice my opinion in light of the rejoicing over this topic that the College is exuding.

What would happen if I suggested therapy for gay/trans behaviour rather than patronising it?

Sandra Skinner   20/11/2017 7:46:53 AM

GPs pay a very hefty fee every year for the privilege of membership in this college. We don't have the option to abstain. The RACGP should therefore be a non-biased body, and not a partisan political force. It shouldn't be simply promoting the latest politically correct fashions.

One of the rest   21/11/2017 12:14:34 AM

I for one voted No, and am disappointed the College publicly misrepresented the position of a large number of its members and misused its social standing in the public discourse around the plebiscite. The original “we hold no position” RACGP statement was appropriate and measured, but required more fortitude than the elected council demonstrated.

Yasser   23/11/2017 9:49:32 PM

"RACGP Council supports marriage equality" Does the council represents itself or represents the members? If it represents the members, has it conducted a poll or a survey to identify what the majority of them support? Clearly the RACGP council is misrepresenting the members. Supporting our patients is our duty whether they are LGBTIQ or not. But supporting Same Sex marriage is a totally different story. As a college we should support patients not divisive ideas. Shame on the council,

Dr M Raj   27/11/2017 8:36:15 PM

Agree, The college needs to maintain a better balance and not become politicians, therefore please butt out of politics. Disappointed how the college has been involved in this process. Though, I do not accept LGBTIQ lifestyle as right, I will treat all patients equal and do the best of my ability to care for each patient regardless of their lifestyle, What if the mental issues is caused by the lifestyle?

Chris D Hogan   8/12/2017 6:52:05 PM

Support for the GLBTI community is an important part of being a GP. As a person of faith I believe we should strongly support the YES vote . An attitude of tolerance for all views is an essential part of being a professional.
The same respect must be offered to all- even for those who voted NO