The Senate has passed a motion calling for the allocated money not spent on the same-sex marriage postal survey to be redirected to mental health services.
After the result was announced, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ chief statistician said he was confident the survey had come in at least $20m under it’s $122 million budget.
The motion, put forward by Greens Senators after Liberal Senator Dean Smith’s marriage equality bill passed on Tuesday, calls for that money to be used to fund mental health support services for LGBTI people.
“The marriage equality survey came in $20 million under budget, meanwhile, mental health services were put under immense pressure due to the scrutiny inflicted on the LGBTIQ community,” Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“It had a significant impact on their mental health.
“Considering it was the Turnbull government who inflicted this survey on the LGBTIQ community, redirecting the money from the postal survey towards mental health services would be the right and compassionate thing to do.”
Greens LGBTIQ spokesperson Senator Janet Rice (pictured) added that there was evidence the postal survey had a negative impact on the mental health of many LGBTIQ Australians.
“Services such as ReachOut saw a 40% increase and Switchboard saw a 35% increase in people accessing their services during the period of the survey,” Senator Rice said.
“Lives were put at risk by this national survey.”
Responding to the motion, Liberal MP James McGrath told the Senate the funding allocated to the Australian Bureau of Statistics “was for the specific purpose of conducting the Australian marriage law postal survey.”
“Any surplus funds will be returned to the budget,” he said.
“The coalition government has made mental health a priority and it is expected that we will be investing over $4.2 billion in 2017-18.
“Included within this investment is an additional $47 million for suicide prevention and continuing support services.”
Read the Greens motion below:
I, and also on behalf of Senator Siewert, move:
That the Senate—
(i) that the vast majority of Australians voted for marriage equality in the recent postal survey,
(ii) that the postal survey had a negative impact on the mental health of many LGBTIQ Australians and their families, demonstrated by examples such as Reachout which saw a 40 per cent, and Switchboard which saw a 35 per cent, increase in people accessing their services between August and October 2017,
(iii) that 40 per cent of young LGBTIQ people seeking help are at a higher risk of suicide – almost double the rate for their heterosexual peers,
(iv) that many LGBTIQ people will remain scarred by the traumatic ordeal the Government has put them through by putting their rights to a public popular vote,
(v) the urgent need to address this issue and offer support to the LGBTIQ community, and
(vi) that the marriage equality postal survey came in approximately $20 million under budget; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to show leadership and spend this unspent postal survey funding on mental health services for LGBTIQ people.