Cabinet reshuffle bodes well for LGBTI health
The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO) and the LGBTI Health Alliance have welcomed last week’s changes to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Cabinet, saying that the new ministerial appointments have strong records when it comes to promoting better health outcomes for LGBTI people and those living with HIV/AIDS.
The Cabinet reshuffle included Nicola Roxon becoming the country’s first female Attorney-General, Sydney MP Tanya Plibersek being promoted to Health Minister, and Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler (pictured with Governor General Quentin Bryce) being given a place within Cabinet.
AFAO executive director Rob Lake said the promotion of Plibersek to Health Minister comes at a time of significant opportunity to re-energise the local response to HIV/AIDS with research now clearly showing the effectiveness of certain treatment and prevention strategies.
“AFAO acknowledges Ministers Roxon and Plibersek for the powerful roles they have played in their respective Ministries to date.
“Minister Roxon as Health Minister made significant progress in Australian Hospital and Health Reform and E Health and reasserted Commonwealth HIV leadership through the 6th National HIV Strategy,” Lake said.
“Minister Plibersek in her role as Minister for Human Services led major changes at Centrelink.”
Lake said that AFAO was also pleased that Community Services Minster Jenny Macklin has had Disability Reform added to her portfolio, with the National Disability Insurance Scheme reform between the Commonwealth and states to profoundly change opportunities and participation for people with disability, including people with HIV.
Alliance general manager Warren Talbot told SX that the elevation of Plibersek and Butler, in particular, were noteworthy.
“Tanya Plibersek has a strong record in supporting LGBTI people and our human rights,” Talbot said.
“This was most recently seen in Minister Plibersek establishing a LGBTI Group for the Department of Human Services. That Group has five nominees from the Alliance.”
Echoing the views of AFAO, Talbot said that Butler’s promotion to Cabinet would see increased attention on areas of ageing, mental health as well as social inclusion.
“Mark Butler has recognised the importance of mental health and suicide prevention for the LGBTI communities, in funding the two year MindOUT! Project,” Talbot added.
“In addition, Minister Butler has taken a leading role in seeing LGBTI people recognised in emerging aged care strategies. At the Alliance / ACON National LGBTI Ageing Roundtable, Minister Butler spent more than two hours discussing the range of issues with participants.”
AFAO also welcomed the appointment of Brendan O’Connor as Human Services Minister, Lake said, with the organisation hopeful that O’Connor will help ensure that reforms to Centrelink and the disability support pension from next year do not harm or negatively affect recipients, including people living with HIV.