We’re here to help lesbians, bisexual, queer and same sex attracted women (including trans and intersex women) take control of their health.
We provide information on relevant health issues, and we offer a range of specific and general services delivered by caring people who genuinely understand the health issues affecting lesbians and same sex attracted women.
While the infection rates for STIs among lesbians is far lower than for gay men, lesbians and bisexual women are still at risk of STI infection. If you manage your sexual health and play it safe you can significantly reduce your risk of getting an STI, or passing it on to a sexual partner.
Getting a regular sexual health check-up is just as important as getting a regular skin cancer check or cholesterol test. The easiest way to do this is to combine a sexual health check up with a regular GP visit, with a GP you can talk to.
If you’re feeling a little unsure or nervous, visit Get Tested – it walks you through what happens at a sexual health check-up and gives other helpful information about STIs and your sexual health. You will also find links to other sites with great information about trans women’s sexual health.
Seeing a GP
There are many local doctors, counsellors and health services that provide great, holistic services to the LGBTI community:
The Australian Lesbian Medical Association (ALMA) compiles an up to date list of doctors and mental health professionals who are recommended by lesbian and bisexual women. This is a national project. There are currently around 90 doctors and mental health professionals on the list, including GPs and specialists, metropolitan and rural doctors.
Women’s Health NSW is a collective of non-government, community based women’s health and specialist centres. All centres are feminist services that provide choices for women to determine their individual health needs. The site provides a list of Women’s Health centres in NSW that you can access by calling for an appointment.
The Office on Women’s Health provides reliable health information for women, including a lesbian and bisexual health fact sheet. You can find out about health risks for same-sex attracted women, and gives you an idea of health issues you should think about discussing with your GP.
Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) has produced a brochure with tips and advice on how to locate a gay and lesbian friendly health service.
We know that lesbian, bisexual, queer (LBQ) and other same-sex attracted women, as well as trans women and men, intersex people, and gender diverse people of all sexualities tend to have lower screening rates for cancer.
Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in Australia and about 43 people will be diagnosed every day in Australia.
#TalkTouchTest is an ongoing breast health campaign for all LBQ women and for our broader LGBTI communities to increase awareness and encourage us to:
#Talk about breast and chest health with our community: start a conversation with our partners and families, our workmates and teammates and lovers and friends.
#Touch to get to know your body (or someone else’s!) and make breast checks and breast health a lifelong habit.
#Test by getting free mammograms (via BreastScreen NSW or through your GP) if you’re over 40, and if you’re between 50-74, get a mammogram every two years.
View the project HERE.
Lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women and smoking
You’ve seen the ads, read the warning labels; most smokers know that smoking is bad for their health. Despite this, LBQ women smoke at more than twice the rate of heterosexual women even though 70% of all LBQ women who smoke say they want to reduce or quit.
If you’re a smoker, you also know that tobacco smoking can be a complex, love/hate relationship enmeshed with identity, mental health and social connections. Quitting isn’t easy for everyone, but it is possible to break-free from tobacco.
With the support of the NSW Cancer Institute, we’ve produced a #Smoke Free Still Fierce, eductaion campaign designed to help LBQ women smokers to reduce or quit their use of tobacco.
Watch stories from women in the community who stopped smoking, download PDF’s with handy hints and quick tips to quit and tell us how else you would like ACON to help you on your journey to quit smoking.
So if you want to flip the script on LBQ women’s smoking and break-up with tobacco, ACON is here to help you get connected, get creative and get inspired.
In 2015 an anonymous online survey of LBQ women was conducted to:
- Identify smoking and smoking cessation behaviours, patterns and contexts among LBQ women and,
- Compare the characteristics of current smokers and ex-smokers.
Download the digital version of the full Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Tobacco Reduction Project Community Report Online Survey Findings here. (Right click on the link and “save link as” to view the digital version correctly in Adobe Acrobat)
The Women’s Coming Out Group is a free, confidential social support group, a safe and friendly place for women who are same-sex attracted, lesbian, gay, bi, queer, questioning or unsure, to meet and talk about various topics around sexuality and other life issues. It is facilitated by trained volunteers of Twenty10 incorporating the Gay and Lesbian Counselling service NSW. Head to the website to find out what happens in a group and to see the list of discussion topics for 2015 groups.
The Australian Lesbian Medical Associations (ALMA) DocLIST website features an extensive list of information and resources to help lesbian, bi and queer women connect with their community and get information on health, legal and human rights issues.
On the list you will find over 600 national and state-based organisations, groups and services and resources. Examples include community events, health services, counselling and support services, social groups, sporting groups, artistic organisations, and young people’s groups.
The Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey was first carried out in 1996. It was initiated by workers from two ACON projects, Women Partners of Gay and Bisexual Men and the Gay and Lesbian Injecting Drug Use Project, who were faced with a lack of empirical evidence on which to base their intervention work. Research on lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s health and wellbeing is still scarce.
SWASH is now a comprehensive survey of sexual and gender identity; community connection; smoking, alcohol and drug use; sexual health; height and weight; psychological wellbeing; experiences of anti-gay, sexual and domestic violence; parenthood intentions; preventive health behaviour; healthcare access and satisfaction; and knowledge questions on reproductive health.
The survey is run every two years by a collaboration of ACON and researchers at the University of New South Wales (until 2009), and now the University of Sydney (since 2010). SWASH is the longest running and only regular survey of LBQ women’s health and wellbeing in Australia (and probably the world). In 2010, the survey began running biennially in Perth: Women’s West Australian Sexual Health (WWASH).
For more information and research on women’s health in Australia, visit The Australian Women’s Health Network’s Women’s Health Hub online library. Information is categorised under various themes including a section relating to sexually and gender diverse women.
- SWASH 2016
- SWASH News Flash: Key findings from the 2016 SWASH Report
- SWASH 2014
- SWASH News Flash: Key findings from the 2014 SWASH Report
- SWASH 2012
- SWASH 2010
- SWASH Report Card 2010
- SWASH 2004
- SWASH 2000
- SWASH 1996/1998
Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:
Germanos, R, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. (Accepted 3/3/15) The social and cultural significance of women’s sexual identities should guide health promotion; an analysis of the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey. LGBT Health.
Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers. (Accepted 2/2/15) Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Sexual Health, 12(3): 249-256.
Richters, J., & Clayton, S. (2010) The practical and symbolic purpose of dental dams in lesbian safe sex promotion [editorial]. Sexual Health, 7, 103-106.
Richters, J., Prestage, G., Schneider, K. & Clayton, S. (2010) Do women use dental dams? Safe sex practices of lesbians and other women who have sex with women. Sexual Health.7, 165-169.
Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., & Prestage, G. (2002). Women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community: Sexual identity, practice and HIV risks. AIDS Care, 14, 193-202.
Richters, J., Lubowitz, S., Bergin, S., & Prestage, G. (1998). HIV risks among women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community. Venereology, 11(3), 35-38.
Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers (2015) Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Health in Difference: 9th National LGBTI Health Conference, Canberra, 13-15 August 2015. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12063 (poster)
Douglas, C, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. Pap smear rates among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women: some good news but disparities persist. Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference, Melbourne, 27 March 2015. (oral)
Germanos, R, Deacon, R, Mooney-Somers, J. (2015) The social and cultural significance of women’s sexual identities should guide health promotion; an analysis of the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) survey. Health in Difference: 9th National LGBTI Health Conference, Canberra, 13-15 August 2015. (poster)
Mooney-Somers, J, Deacon, R, AOD and mental health among Australian community-attached lesbian and bisexual women. Lesbian, Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Conference, Melbourne, 27 March 2015. (invited oral)
Mooney-Somers J, Deacon R, Comfort J, Richters J. (2013) Urgent action needed to address smoking, drug use, sexual and mental health among young lesbian and bisexual women – data from Sydney and Perth. Youth Health, Perth.
Mooney-Somers J, Deacon R, Comfort J, Richters J. (2013) Using local evidence to inform public health priorities for lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual health. Sexual Health, Darwin. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/11980
Mooney-Somers, J, Deacon, R, Comfort J. Price K Richters J (November 2012) Using local evidence to inform public health priorities for lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual and reproductive health . Poster presented at 1st Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference, Melbourne.
Matheson, A, Ishter, T, May, S, Mooney-Somers, J &Deacon, R. Addressing health inequities for same sex attracted women in New South Wales, who use drugs. Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference (APSAD), Hobart: November 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12040
Matheson, A, May, S, Mooney-Somers, J &Deacon, R. Addressing health inequities for same sex attracted women in New South Wales, Australia, who use drugs. International Harm Reduction Conference, Beirut: April 2011. http://hdl.handle.net/2123/12039
Clayton, S., Richters, J., May, S., & Eulate,V. (September 2008). Exploring lesbian health: Behaviours in community-connected lesbians and same-sex-attracted women in Sydney. Poster presented at Australasian Sexual Health Conference, Perth.
Richters, J., (April 2007). Researching sex between women. Invited presentation in forum on Gay and Lesbian Research Studies, 1st World Congress of Sexual Health (18th World Congress of World Association of Sexology), Sydney. Abstract S24-2 in 1st World Congress for Sexual Health, Achieving health, pleasure and respect, Sydney April 15-19, 2007: Abstract book. Boulogne Billancourt: Regimedia, p. 30.
Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Allan, B., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (July 2003). Prevention of HIV and sexually transmissible infections in sex between women: the practical and symbolic role of dental dams. Presented to AIDS Impact, Milan.
Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (November 2002). Sex between women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Use of dental dams. Presented to Health in Difference 4: Fourth National Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual Health Con¬ference, Sydney.
Richters, J., Ellard, J., Prestage, G., Rudland, J., Pinwill, S., & Clayton, S. (November 2002). Sexual risk among women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 2002. Presented to Building a Lesbian Health Research Agenda Forum, ACON (AIDS Council of New South Wales) and ALMA (Australian Lesbian Medical Association), Sydney.
Richters, J., Aspin, C., Bebbington, M., & Prestage, G. (September 2001). SWASH 2000: Safe sex practices between women. Presented to Lesbian Health: Making Visible through Research, AIDS Council of NSW roundtable, Sydney.
Richters, J. (December 2000). Sexual identity, sexual practice and STD risk: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1998. Presented to forum on women who have sex with women, Lesbian Health Interagency Network and AIDS Council of NSW, Sydney.
Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., French, J., & Prestage, G. (July 1998). Women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1996 and 1998. Poster presented at Bridging the Gap: 12th World AIDS Conference, Geneva. Abstract 23492 in Conference Record.
Richters, J., Bergin, S., Lubowitz, S., French, J., & Prestage, G. (October 1998). Women in contact with the gay and lesbian community: Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey 1998. Presented to Fifth HIV/AIDS and Society Conference, Sydney.
Richters, J. (June 1997). Women in contact with Sydney’s gay and lesbian community: identity, behaviour and risk. Presented to AIDS Impact: Biopsychosocial Aspects of HIV Infection 3rd International Conference, Melbourne.
We’re here to provide information and promote the importance of regular cervical screening.
We’re creating resources for our communities to help provide greater access to cervical screening in 2017. Watch this space! In the meantime, we encourage you to contact Family Planning, your GP or your local sexual health centre for more information about cervical screening.
The LBQ Women’s Health Conference focuses on the health and wellbeing needs of all LBQ women within Australian communities. This annual event offers attendees a wide range of opportunities to discuss, engage with and explore these health needs as well as profile new and emerging research, innovative programs and services being delivered to address these needs in our communities.
The next conference will be held on 12 & 13 July 2018 in Melbourne.
This event is co-presented by ACON & VAC.
For more information and to sign up to our newsletter for updates, visit the conference website.
Promoting the health and wellbeing of lesbian, bisexual, queer and same sex attracted women living in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
The labrys is a double-headed axe, which became a symbol of strength and self-sufficiency for the lesbian and feminist movements in the 1970’s. The labrys continues to represent the pride and strength of our communities today.
In 2014 and 2015, ACON and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District partnered to establish the Labrys Project.
The project conducted a community based survey, a series of focus groups, delivered mental health first aid training and developed a resource to explore issues affecting the lives of lesbian, bisexual, queer (LBQ) and same sex attracted women living in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
LBQ and same sex attracted women can face a range of factors that impact their health and wellbeing in unique ways.
General Support & Services
We provide a range of counselling and community care services for lesbians and same sex attracted women, including those with HIV or who use drugs. To find out more please visit our Mental Health section.
Alcohol & Drugs
We provide a range of resources and support services to help lesbians and same sex attracted women who use alcohol and other drugs. To find out more please visit our Alcohol & Drugs section.
Safety & Inclusion
We provide a range of resources and support services to help lesbians and same sex attracted women who are experiencing homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination. To find out more please visit our Safety & Inclusion section.
Domestic & Family Violence
We provide a range of resources and support services to help lesbians and same sex attracted women who are experiencing domestic and family violence. To find out more please visit our Domestic & Family Violence section.
We provide a range of resources and support services for older lesbians and same sex attracted women (50+). To find out more please visit our Ageing section.