The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) is deeply concerned that the new draft residential aged care accreditation standards do not mention the particular issues faced by sex, sexuality and gender diverse people.

While the draft standards identify the differences among all people accessing residential aged care, noting a list of important cultural differences, they fail to specifically reference sex, sexual orientation and gender identity as an important difference.

The Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA) has funded projects that aim to promote non-discrimination. Such projects include ACON’s cultural sensitivity aged-care training project and GLBTI-targeted community aged-care packages provided by QAHC and Care Connect in Queensland.

It is therefore surprising that there is no mention of LGBTI older people in the new draft accreditation standards.

Submissions to the recent Productivity Commission Inquiry into aged care in Australia noted that sexual and gender minorities face particular difficulties in accessing services when they are forced to ‘out’ their identities or relationship status.

Historically non-heterosexual older people in aged-care settings have experienced high levels of stigma and harassment and many have been coerced into remaining silent about their sexuality.

We strongly recommend that to avoid reproducing this culture of shame and discrimination, the residential aged-care accreditation standards should refer specifically to sex, sexuality and gender diversity, and the need to protect the privacy and dignity of all residents.

It is particularly important that reference be made to sex, sexuality and gender diverse people in the accreditation standards as there are currently no federal anti-discrimination protections.

Given the absence of comprehensive statutory protections, it is important that departmental policies include specific principles of non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and sex and gender identity.

We urge individual and community organisations to email their concerns to DOHA (accreditationreview@health.gov.au) and inform them that sexual orientation, sex and gender identity must be expressly mentioned in the residential aged care accreditation standards. This will ensure the rights to dignity and non-discrimination for older LGBTI people are taken into consideration.

By SENTHORUN RAJ, NSW GLRL

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