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Victoria’s Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen and health researchers have called for a greater focus on LBQ women’s health.

It comes ahead of the Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference in Melbourne on Friday, which Commissioner Allen said would be a chance to address some of these health issues.

“We need a response that includes targeted programs considering the unique needs of LBQ women, and we need research to support that response. Funding better health outcomes for LBQ women must become a priority,” she said.

“The overwhelming response to last year’s inaugural LBQ Women’s Health Conference is a testament to how much the community wants and needs this important dialogue. Expanding the scope of the conference to a national level in this second year is a promising sign we’re moving in the right direction.”

Now in its second year, the conference brings together industry experts, service providers and community members from around Australia to discuss the health and wellbeing of LBQ women.

Director of HIV and sexual health at ACON, Karen Price, said LBQ women have higher rates of smoking, higher rates of substance use, poorer mental health and lower screening participation rates.

“We also know that this subpopulation is not effectively reached by mainstream health messaging or campaigns,” Price said.

“For those of us working to maximise the health and wellbeing of LBQ Women, we know there’s a big job ahead of us to ensure our communities’ health issues are better understood by decision makers.”

An international keynote speaker for the conference has also been announced: Professor Julie Fish from De Montfort University in Leicester.

Professor Fish has published widely on human rights and LGBT health inequalities around the world.

The LBQ Women’s Health Conference will take place on Friday, May 27 in Melbourne.

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