The federal government will develop a national LGBTI aged care strategy to support the implementation of Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package.

Ageing Minister Mark Butler said he had acted on the advice of the Productivity Commiss

ion as well as groups like the ACON, the National LGBTI Health Alliance and the GLBTI Retirement Association.

“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 special 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.”

Butler said he 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 Living Longer Living Better, which provides $3.7 billion over five years and represents the commencement of a 10-year program.

The reform package, which was announced in April, is aimed at creating a more flexible system for older Australians and give priority to areas such as support and care in the home,
Butler said the new strategy will build on the support the package already provides for LGBTI Australians.

“In April, I announced $2.5 million to support staff training that is sensitive to the specific needs of these older Australians,” he said.

“This funding supports aged care providers to work with their staff to continually improve how they respond to the diverse and complex needs of the older Australians they support.

“The National LGBTI Aged Care Strategy will provide direction for providers and better articulate and coordinate our aims.”

The National LGBTI Health Alliance acting chair Susan Ditter welcomed the commitment.

“This is an important development for older LGBTI Australians”, said Ditter.

“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.”

Ditter said that many older LGBTI people had experienced stigma and discrimination, with gay men living through the time when their sexual activities were criminalized.

“To be successful the plan will need to ensure that transgender, intersex and bisexual and gay and lesbian elders are consulted on the main directions for the plan,” she said.

“It will also need wider consultation and review mechanisms to ensure that strategies are being effectively implemented.”

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