Plans for new national LGBTI aged care strategy welcomed
The special needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) will be addressed under a new national strategy on aged care to be developed by the Federal Government.
In an announcement that has been welcomed by LGBTI health and wellbeing advocacy groups, the Minister for Ageing Mark Butler today revealed plans by the Federal Government to develop a national aged care strategy specifically targeting older LGBTI people.
“We are predicting a large increase in the demand for aged care by this group,” Butler said.
“And there is a broad community consensus that it is important to recognise people who are LGBTI in the same way as we recognise the needs of other diverse groups such as people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“Ultimately it’s about recognising difference and ensuring equality.”
The National LGBTI Aged Care Strategy is part of the government’s wider $3.7 billion reform program on aged care, Living Longer Living Better, and has been acted on recommendations from the Productivity Commission as well as consultations with groups such as the National LGBTI Health Alliance, the GLBTI Retirement Association Inc. and ACON.
The National LGBTI Health Alliance said the plan was an important development for older LGBTI Australians.
“The plan will provide a focus to ensure that older LGBTI Australians are able to participate in aged care services, in the same way as other Australians,” said Susan Ditter, acting Chair of the LGBTI Health Alliance.
Jude Comfort, Chair of the GLBTI Retirement Association Inc. (GRAI), an organisation that advocates on behalf of older LGBTI people, said the announcement “shows a real change and a commitment to see LGBTI elders as a vulnerable group that do need special attention”.
“As a society, we need to look at ageing issues,” Comfort told SX.
“We have a group of Baby Boomers heading into that area. Our current way of handling aged care issues is not sustainable, so we’re pleased to be part that $3.7 billion that has been put aside to look at aged care reform, and that LGBTI elders has been put highlighted on a Federal Government level.”
NSW GLBTI health organisation ACON said the development of the plan will help deliver improved health outcomes for LGBTI seniors.
“About 70,000 GLBT people over the age 55 live in NSW,” acting ACON CEO Geoff Honnor says.
“Research shows that many older GLBT people fear discrimination and insensitive treatment within the aged care system, either from other residents or from aged care service providers.”
“Along with a range of other stakeholders, we have been advocating for many years for a national strategy that delivers for GLBT seniors the same rights to privacy, dignity and culturally appropriate services as all other Australians, and we congratulate the Government and Minister Butler on committing to this important initiative.
“We now look forward to working with the Government and our partners in the aged care sector to develop this ground-breaking plan.”
The Health Alliance’s Ditter said it was crucial that LGBTI people are included in the development process.
“We stand ready to work with the Government and aged care sector in the development of a plan that aged care services to provide quality care for older LGBTI people, and guide the Government’s reform in coming years.
“To be successful, the plan will need to ensure that transgender, intersex, bisexual, gay and lesbian elders are consulted on the main directions for the plan. It will also need wider consultation and review mechanisms to ensure that strategies are being effectively implemented.”
The announcement builds on the Federal Government’s LGBTI aged care training package announced in April, in which $2.5 million will be used over five years to train aged care staff in addressing the sensitive needs of older LGBTI Australians.
“We will work with the National LGBTI Health Alliance to develop a comprehensive strategy to make sure the needs of LGBTI Australians are addressed in the implementation of our $3.7 billion aged care reform package,” Butler said.
A steering committee comprising relevant stakeholder representatives will guide the development of the strategy which will begin with a broad-ranging community consultation.