LGBTI aged care on government agenda
The Australian Government will include LGBTI people as a special needs group under the Aged Care Act, and will allocate $2.5m over the next five years for LGBTI training of the aged care workforce, in an announcement greatly welcomed by the likes of ACON and the National LGBTI Health Alliance.
The provisions and funding have been included under a $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better plan to reform the aged care sector announced last Friday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler.
Under the planned reforms, the Government has stated it will act “to ensure that sexual diversity does not act as a barrier to receiving high quality aged care in either community or residential settings”.
Leading LGBTI ageing expert, Dr Jo Harrison, a gerontologist with the University of South Australia, told SX the “tremendous milestone” was testament to the hard work of those in the community who had raised serious concerns related to LGBTI aged care and discrimination over many years, particularly older LGBTI people themselves.
“Recognition as a special needs group within the Aged Care Act represents a significant shift from virtual invisibility to a clear and solid presence in aged care at federal level in Australia,” Harrison said.
“Special needs group status will enable access to funding and increased attention within policies and programs across aged care. It will also send a strong signal to providers of aged care.”
ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said he was hopeful the initiatives would ensure that LGBTI people received the same standard of care as others in the community.
“ACON is delighted that the Australian Government has recognised the value in delivering training for workers who provide aged care services to LGBTI people, and for such programs to be rolled out nationally,” Parkhill said.
Alliance general manager, Warren Talbot, said training of aged care workers was “a vital initiative” and could see LGBTI aged training taking place in every state and territory over the next five years.
“The special needs of LGBTI people are often neglected. The Productivity Commission report broke new ground in recommending special provision for the LGBTI communities, and this has been accepted by the Government,” Talbot said.
“We look forward to multi-partisan support for that legislative change.”
The Alliance has also called for the development of a National LGBTI Aged Care Strategy to help co-ordinate the announced aims.