An excerpt from “Kimberley suicide rate, one of the world’s highest – Yiriman is the way to go” by Gerry Georgatos
I met with Broome-based LGBTI advocate, Dameyon Bonson. Mr Bonson is a well-respected researcher and consultant in the field of LGBTI. LGBTI First Peoples face various pressures that can only be relieved by public discussions. Mr Bonson said that in general, 3 to 4 per cent of any population identifies as LGBTI, and therefore it is likely that 3 to 4 per cent of First Peoples identify as LGBTI.
Determining the size of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender population is difficult. However, recent studies by Gates and Newport (2012) in the United States estimated the percentage of Americans who identify as LGBTI at approximately 3.4 per cent.
According to the ABS, “Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population there were an estimated 294,000 children and young people, representing 4.2 per cent of the total Australian population aged 0 to 24 years.” Mr Bonson said that in using the American figure of 3.4 per cent, there are approximately 10,000 First Peoples who are LGTBI “and whose needs are yet to be identified.”
“They cannot be forgotten.”
Mr Bonson suggested that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who are LGTBI “are at four times the risk of suicide than Indigenous Australians whom are not LGTBI, whose suicide risk is already higher than the general Australian population.”
“LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicidality of any population in Australia (LGBTI Health 2013), and my placing this overall data in the context of suicide makes a compelling argument that a response is required. Conversely, for Indigenous Australians the rate of suicide is ‘more than 4.2 per cent, or one in every 24 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Strategy 2013).”
“Health promotional programs for Indigenous, particularly those that are Government – State or Federal – have no actual Indigenous evaluation tools or methodology,” said Mr Bonson.
“Recently, at the Australasian Evaluation Society Conference in Darwin, I participated with 30 other Indigenous Australians to workshop what Indigenous evaluations should look like for Indigenous evaluators.”
“Therefore, current Government Indigenous programs are not meeting standards that we need to develop.”
“Mr Bonson is promoting the development of a Black Rainbow organisation, with more to be announced at a later time. However such a concentrated organisation should be able to generate educative discussions.”