A Rainbow Tick guide to help health service providers offer more GLBTI-friendly care is set for release at the end of the month.

Six Victorian health services have already signed on to pilot the auditing process over the year, the move thought to be the first formal process of its kind in Australia.

The Rainbow Tick accreditation guidelines have been developed by Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria (GLHV) in conjunction with health auditors Quality Improvement and Community Services Accreditation (QICSA).

GLHV researcher Catherine Barrett told the Star Observer the auditing system aims to set up a best practice guide for Victorian health services to be more inclusive.

“At the end of April we’ll have developed a good practice and evaluation guide. That’ll be the guide the accreditation team will use to check evidence of organisations achieving the standard and it’s also the one the organisations will use to say, what is it I can do in relation to this standard.

“What we need to do is train up the assessors in QICSA, and then the end of this year and into early next year, there will be the pilot processes.”

Barrett said most of the six health services are Melbourne-based, but one rural service will test the accreditation process.

“The idea is having early adopters, people who take stuff and run with it that then creates some momentum,” she said.

“So we’re really working with champions in the first instance. And then what we’ll be doing is publicising people who have a tick.”

Barrett said the most common request GLHV received is from people looking for GLBTI-friendly services.

“There’s a real need for it in terms of consumers, and the idea is, anyone can be friendly, anyone can stick a flag on their door, but you go to reception and reception can be as rude as hell.

“What we’re saying is it’s not about being a friendly practice — it’s about being an inclusive practice [throughout] the whole organisation.”

Barrett said things like making forms and websites more inclusive and representative are some of the ways health services can improve.

The Rainbow Tick accreditation process follows the 2009 release of the the Well Proud guide, a best-practice ‘bible’ for health services to come to grips with the needs of GLBTI people, sent out to health services across Victoria.

The guidelines were the first of their kind in Australia to comprehensively set out ways health care providers can improve the quality of care for GLBTI people.

The Rainbow Tick roll-out has been funded by the Victorian Department of Health.

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