Ageing and Issues Facing Older LGBTI Australians
Media Release: Thursday 21 December 2012
Health Alliance welcomes “ground breaking” LGBTI Aged Care Strategy
"Australia’s LGBTI Health Alliance today welcomed the release of the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.
“This is a ground breaking first for Australia”, declared Alliance Chair Susan Ditter. “It is the first time the Australian Government has released a national strategy specifically addressing the health and well-being of LGBTI people.”
“The needs of older LGBTI Australians has been well documented, and a number of local community-based projects have been developed in some States/Territories.”
“But for the first time, there is now an overarching national framework, with guiding principles and goals for the Australian Government to achieve”, Ms Ditter said. “These can be used to encourage further local and regional initiatives by both the aged care sector and LGBTI communities.”
Ms Ditter said that the Alliance had been closely involved with the development of the Strategy, jointly chairing the Steering Committee for the Strategy and conducting 15 community consultations throughout Australia.
“We congratulate the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler MP, and officers of the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA), for taking a lead in this area of health and well-being for LGBTI populations.”
“DoHA has committed to annual, public reporting to monitor the implementation of the strategy. It will be important in the delivery of the strategy that community engagement, especially by older LGBTI people themselves, is supported.”, Ms Ditter said."
- Community Consultations on National LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Strategy
- Download the draft National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy
- Background to National LGBTI Ageing & Aged Care Strategy
- LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care in Context
- Our Work
- Contact us
The last few years have seen a number of exciting developments for older LGBTI Australians. LGBTI aged care is now firmly on the Australian Government’s agenda. The Australian government has announced the development of a National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy to ensure that the needs of older LGBTI Australians are addressed.
This presents a great opportunity for you to voice your concerns over LGBTI aged care, and to tell us what needs to be done to address those concerns. The Alliance is currently hosting broad-ranging community consultations across each State and Territory on the development of the Strategy, and we want to hear from you.
There are two ways to get involved:
We welcome your written feedback on all aspects of the draft Strategy, and in particular on the Guiding Principles (p11-12) and Strategic Goals (p13-15) sections. Written submissions are due by 2 November, and need to be returned to Steven Kennedy via email or post to PO Box 51, Newtown NSW 2042.
This feedback will then be collated and sent to the Department of Health and Ageing to help the final development of the final Strategy.
We encourage you to forward this invitation for feedback to any other individuals, groups or organisations that may be interested.
Details of your nearest face-to-face consultation are below. RSVPs are essential to Steven Kennedy via email or phone on (02) 8568 1110.
Australian Capital Territory
Canberra - The Griffin Centre
20 Genge Street, Canberra ACT 2601
26 October 2012 from 9am - 1pm (light lunch will be provided)
New South Wales
Sydney - ACON Health Ltd.
414 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010
8 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Newcastle - Noah's on the Beach
Corner Shortland Esplanade and Zaara Street, Newcastle NSW 2300
9 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Lismore - Lismore Workers Club
231 Keen Street, Lismore NSW 2480
10 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Alice Springs - Chifley Alice Springs Resort
34 Stott Terrace, Alice Springs NT 0870
16 October 2012 from 1pm - 3pm (light lunch will be provided)
Darwin - Mantra Esplanade
88 The Esplanade, Darwin NT 0800
17 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Brisbane - Riverside Receptions
50 Oxlade Drive, New Farm QLD 4005
11 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Cairns - Rydges Tradewinds
137 The Esplanade, Cairns QLD 4870
12 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Adelaide - Alzheimer's Australia South Australia
27 Conyngham Street, Glenside SA 5065
15 October 2012 from 9:00am - 1pm (light lunch will be provided)
Hobart - Mercure Hobart
156 Bathurst Street, Hobart TAS 7000
24 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Melbourne - Victoria Aids Council/Gay Men's Health Centre
6 Claremont Street, South Yarra VIC 3141
22 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Shepparton - UnitingCare Cutting Edge
219-225 Wyndham Street, Shepparton VIC 3630
23 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
Perth - The Oxford Hotel
368 Oxford Street, Leederville WA 6007
19 October 2012 from 10am - 2pm (light lunch will be provided)
National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy
In July 2012 the Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler, announced the development of an LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy, so that concerns raised by LGBTI older people, the National LGBTI Health Alliance and other organisations in recent years may be considered by the Government as part of its implementation of the broader Living Longer Living Better reforms to aged care.
The aim of the Strategy is to provide a strategic framework to inform Australian Government commitment, policy, programs and service development priorities, including resource allocation and the “special needs” status of LGBTI people, as it implements the reforms.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance has been funded to host broad-ranging community consultations in each State and Territory, as well as accepting written submissions, to provide a report for the Department of Health and Ageing which will inform the development of this Strategy, and we want to hear from you.
LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care in Context
Not all older LGBTI Australians are the same, and it is important to remember that there is great diversity and generational differences within this group. Different people will thus have distinct needs and differing preferences around ageing and aged care. Those who grew up in a context of severe societal stigma, and who had their behaviour regarded as criminal or were pathologised by medicine may fear being “outed” after a lifetime of avoiding disclosure. This group thus experiences ageing differently compared to those LGBTI Australians now approaching retirement who have lived openly about their sexual or gender identity, where getting older can mean a fear of being sent back into the closet to avoid facing discrimination at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives. Aged care services thus need to be sensitive to the diverse needs and backgrounds of individuals when delivering care and support.
Historically, LGBTI issues around ageing have been invisible, across clinical and service practices, training and education, as well as research and ageing policy. While there have been a number of recent studies [link] into issues around LGBTI ageing, there remains a lack of research in this field, especially around ageing for bisexual, transgender and intersex people. As a result, LGBTI Australians have not had access to adequate support and care to address their health and wellbeing needs.
However, this historic invisibility is beginning to change. Recent announcements by the Australian Government have included, for the first time, recognition of the unique concerns and challenges faced by older LGBTI people as well as initiatives specifically targeted towards LGBTI Australians. This builds upon the recent Productivity Commission inquiry into aged care.
In April 2010, the Australian Government commissioned a Productivity Inquiry into aged care, tasked with investigating the changes that would need to be made to the aged care system in order to cope with an older and increasingly diverse population.
During the Productivity Commission’s consultations, various aged care groups and LGBTI groups including the National LGBTI Health Alliance advocated for an aged care system that was more appropriate for older LGBTI Australians (view or download the Alliance’s submission to the Productivity Commission, July 2010). Amongst the various recommendations three key reforms were advocated for by the National LGBTI Health Alliance:
- recognition as “special needs status” under the Aged Care Act;
- funded national training for aged care workers on LGBTI older issues; and
- an LGBTI ageing strategic plan to ensure the changes to the aged care industry were sensitive and supportive of LGBTI older people’s needs.
In August 2011, the Productivity Commission released their report Caring for Older Australians which endorsed these three key recommendations. The report included an entire chapter devoted to catering for diversity, as well as a specific section on LGBTI Australians (p 253-255 of the report). It also supported developing a strategic plan, and stated that “In the Commission’s view, consideration of the development of a specific GLBTI strategy is warranted given the anticipated increase in demand for aged care services by this group and the limited recognition of their needs and preferences in the current policy framework, delivery of services and accreditation processes.”
These statements were endorsed by the Aged Care Industry, as demonstrated by the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) November 2011 factsheets on the Productivity Commission report which stated that “It is also encouraging to see the GLBTI issues being discussed and the Alliance supports the development of a national aged care approach to ensure providers are more aware of, and address, these needs.”
The recommendations were further endorsed by older consumers, including LGBTI older people who attended the Ministerial conversations around the country to discuss the proposed reforms. In the concluding report, the conversation coordinators, COTA Australia noted that “The Conversations acknowledged, and supported, the Productivity Commission’s recommendation for the development of a specific Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) aged care strategy"
The Aged Care Act 1997, which governs all aspects of residential care as well as flexible and community care, was amended under the Same-Sex Relationships Act 2008 to recognise same-sex relationships. This meant that from 1 July 2009 older same-sex couples have been able to spread their assets and exclude their family home from any asset and income tests, the same as opposite-sex couples. However the past inequality, which resulted in higher aged care facility fees and costs for many, has left some older LGBTI Australians in a poor financial position.
In April 2012, the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon. Mark Butler MP, announced two important initiatives. The first was that LGBTI people would be recognised with “special needs” status under the Aged Care Act, recognising that aged care providers and planning authorities need to consider the requirements of the LGBTI community in the provision of care. The second announcement dedicated $2.5 million over 5 years towards training the aged care sector about LGBTI issues. These initiatives were further supported by including LGBTI people within funding for Community Visitor Schemes and a fund for targeted special needs ageing initiatives.
Ageing and aged care has been a priority issue for the Alliance since its formation 2007, and the Alliance has made a substantial contribution to the policy sphere through various submissions. We currently have a working group on ageing, and are working with the Department of Health and Ageing on the development of the National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Strategy.
Our Ageing and Aged Care Submissions:
Our Ageing and Aged Care Media Releases: